Kurdistan is one of the few places in the MENA region to have a law which criminalizes domestic violence. In 2011, the Kurdistan Parliament passed the ‘Combating Domestic Violence Law’. For the first time the law criminalized a broad range of violence in the home, physical, psychological, sexual, and social violence against women within the family. It expanded the mandate of the Department of Combating Violence Against Women and in Families (DCVAW) a multi-sector law enforcement unit that combats violence against women and children across the Kurdistan Region, expanded the government shelters to protect women survivors of violence, and criminizaled female genital mutilation. 

However, after nine years it has become clear there are issues and obstacles to implementing the law and there are contradictions in the law which undermine the protections intended by the law. For two years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), led by the DCVAW has been leading a process in the KRG, with NGOs, the UN, and others, to analyze the law and identify needed changes. SEED worked on a final proposed set of proposed amendments with DCVAW last last year, which have been submitted to the Kurdistan Parliament. 

It’s time for the change! SEED is now working with DCVAW and seeking to campaign with a broad range of actors to advocate for amendments to the law. These changes are urgently needed to better reflect the realities of the violence in our community and incorporate lessons learned and best practices. 

Some of the key changes in the law and its application include: 

  • Clarifications and guidelines for implementation 
  • Strengthening mechanisms for referrals, collaboration, and coordination among the applicable government agencies 
  • Distinguishing the roles and responsibilities of each government institution 
  • Greater consistency in application of the law across governorates 
  • Protections for children need strengthening in law and in practice
  • The establishment of DCVAW offices in all districts 
  • Application of the law by all the ministries and governmental commissions

DCVAW is integral in providing support to women and men against domestic violence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq; these amendments would make their work more efficient and impactful. It is critical to support DCVAW and MOLSA to strengthen capacity and — with necessary resources — fulfill their mandate.

As the legislation has now been submitted to the Kurdistan parliament for consideration, SEED invites a broad range of NGO, UN, and diplomatic actors to mount a campaign to get the amendments passed into law, to garner more resources for implementation, and to raise awareness about GBV and the need for increased protections for women and children, and to counter harmful opposition to the law. These changes will affect the lives of women and families and work to minimize the gaps and increase their protection. 

To get involved, contact@seedkurdistan.org