Combating Domestic Violence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

SEED Foundation commends the Kurdistan Parliament’s effort to amend the Act of Combating Domestic Violence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Law No. 8 of 2011). SEED urges the adoption of key changes, to ensure a more inclusive and robust law, that effectively promotes and protects the rights of all survivors, and those at risk, from all forms of gender-based violence (GBV).

We are in a crisis in Kurdistan with a dramatic rise in honor killings, suicide, and violence against women. We have seen an alarming increase in all forms of GBV, including technology facilitated violence, particularly during the humanitarian crisis and the global pandemic. More than 45% of women living in Iraq report experiencing Intimate Partner Violence in the past 12 months, and more than 40% of women report feeling unsafe in their own communities1. In the first half of 2022, at least 24 women have been killed as a result of gender-based violence, the same as the total number of femicides recorded in 2021, an explosive and terrifying increase.

To respond to this unprecedented assault on women and girls, Kurdistan needs an even stronger law. Now is a pivotal time for Parliament to act to ensure that all women in Kurdistan have access to protective and other services. We urge the following amendments:

  • The revised law should expand its scope to protect every individual, against all forms of gender-based violence, within and outside the scope of the family, because while women are most affected by GBV, girls, boys, and men are also survivors of GBV, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, technology-facilated GBV, etc.
  • The revised law should adopt a survivor centered approach guaranteeing safety, confidentiality, respect and non-discrimination. Mediation or reconciliation should be voluntary, requiring a survivor’s consent, and access to the shelter be available to all, to ensure that the survivor’s dignity, interests, and safety are respected.
  • To be effective and achieve robust implementation, the law must be supported by a sufficient annual budget and resources, along with actionable and comprehensive implementing regulations.

Combating GBV is a critical foundation for a peaceful, healthy, and flourishing society free from violence and we appeal to the Kurdistan Parliament to work forcefully and bravely to confront this crisis.

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SEED Foundation is a local NGO in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, committed to protecting, empowering, and supporting the recovery of survivors of violence and others at risk. Our approach to this mission is integrative and holistic. We provide quality and comprehensive services, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), legal, protection, and shelter services; training and education to those working to protect and serve survivors; and policy and advocacy to strengthen laws, policies, practices and protections for vulnerable people, and promote social change.

1 Women, Peace and Security Index 2021/22