July 23, 2006

Being Taught A Lesson in Iraq

Difficulties for Iraq's Battered Women

The issue of domestic violence is a difficult one to face in Iraq. According to women's advocates and victims, the conservative values and weak protection laws discourage victims of domestic abuse to come forward to authorities who often do not take them seriously.

"According to Iraqi law, a woman can take legal action against her husband when there are marks on her body or when there are witnesses to the abuse, which makes it hard to get a conviction, say women's advocates and victims.

Some lawyers are pressing for protection laws that rely on personal testimonies rather than physical or witness evidence of abuse.

Rewas Fayaq, a lawyer, said witnesses are particularly difficult to find because beatings often take place in private. She said the law needs to be changed and that there should be greater awareness of domestic violence.

"The laws have not been successful in stopping abuse against women," she said.
But not all in the judiciary think like Fayaq. Gashaw Mohammad, a female judge with Sulaimaniyah's personal status court, said, "If the beating hasn't broken a bone and there isn't a mark on [the victim’s] body, then it's not a beating. It's being taught a lesson." [more]

Several women's organizations say they are making efforts to help decrease domestic abuse cases, but more efforts are needed. However, many women who have family support rely on their relatives rather than on outside organizations for help in domestic abuse cases.

The above is from EPIC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting

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