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The Independent | 31.05.2013
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CIP | 22.03.2013
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UN Special | 06.02.2013
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RUDAW.NET | 29.11.2013.

Kurdistan Premier: Stronger Policies Needed to Combat Gender Violence

Two years ago the KRG passed a law banning violence against women including genital mutilation (FGM) and putting “honor killings” at the same level as murder.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani called this week for stronger policies to combat gender-based violence against women, saying the issue is a “social problem at large.”

“Violence against women is an expression of the lack of security and safety inside families,” he said Monday, in commemoration of the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women. Violence against women “is not just a women's issues, but a social problem at large,” he added.

Barzani also called on government departments to cooperate more effectively on protecting women's rights. He acknowledged there have been some achievements “through dedicated institutions and reformed laws.”

Calling on all civil servants to go beyond their party political differences, Barzani gave a mixed report on the situation of women in Kurdistan, outpointing shortcomings to tackle the issue. He said there was a lack of cooperation among different government departments and agencies, lack of professionalism and expertise in tackling gender-based violence issues and an absence of mechanisms to implement measures.

In this regard, he criticized religious leaders for propagating anti-women and anti-government measures. These “are neither in line with Islam nor with Kurdistan Regional Government principles,” he said.

“While examining the issue, I came to know that violence against women has been reduced in Kurdistan. However, it has been on the increase in some areas. I am very concerned about that and have commissioned an investigation into the reasons behind that increase,” he said.

“What is more, some of the courts in Kurdistan Region have not been implementing Kurdistan’s laws; they have been rather working with previous Ba’ath legislation. In addition to that, there has been political interference into some cases. Such acts are against legislation and principles of Kurdistan Region and have to stop,” he warned.

Two years ago the KRG passed a law banning violence against women including genital mutilation (FGM) and putting “honor killings” at the same level as murder.

So-called “honor killings,” in which male relatives murder female kin seen to have besmirched family honor by engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship, remain common in Kurdistan. FGM, often backed by Islamic leaders, is also widespread according to a 2012 report by New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“The regional government has begun to run awareness campaigns, train judges, and issue orders to police on the articles of the law dealing with domestic violence. But it apparently has not taken similar steps to implement the FGM ban,” Human Rights Watch says on its website.

Barzani pointed to a new form of violence against women through defamatory Internet attacks on women’s rights activists in Kurdistan and called for new legislation and actions “aiming at bringing perpetrators to trial and criminalizing their acts.”

Barzani also made a call for greater opportunities for women in decision-making positions.

“The political leadership in Kurdistan Region is convinced and strongly committed to work on such issues. We believe that ensuring security, equality and justice is the best path towards a free and safe Kurdistan for all citizens,” he said.