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Hundreds of women burnt alive every year in Iraq, as family-based violence rises with breakdown of law and order – new report

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Women are paying a heavy price for the breakdown of law and order in Iraq as family-based violence reaches epidemic proportions, says the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights in a new report.

In The Lost Women of Iraq: Family-based violence during armed conflict, an increase in various forms of violence at the hands of family members, is attributed to decades of conflict, the revival of tribal customs, the eruption of sectarianism and the strengthening of patriarchal religious attitudes.

‘Violence inside the home has increased along with violence in the street,’ says Miriam Puttick, author of the report.

‘We are seeing hundreds of cases every year in which women are burnt alive, widespread acceptance of the murder of women for bringing so-called dishonour to their families, and high rates of female genital mutilation. In recent years there has even been a revival of the practice of fasliyya, in which women are bartered as a means of resolving tribal disputes,’ she adds.

Young women and girls also fall foul of harmful practices. The report details increasing rates of forced and underage marriage, including large numbers of girls married under the age of 14 and some as young as ten.

Attempts to seek redress in cases of violence against women are undermined by a weak and ineffective judicial system and outdated laws that excuse or legitimize attacks against women, says the report, which also makes recommendations for repealing provisions of the Iraqi Penal Code which absolve perpetrators of rape from punishment if they marry their victims.

Those responsible for grievous crimes routinely escape justice or are given mild sentences. However, the large majority of cases never make it to court. In Iraq, violence against women in the home is considered a private matter and strong cultural taboos prevent victims from speaking out.

‘With the ongoing war against ISIS, women’s rights across Iraq are being ignored. But the two are connected,’ says Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International and Director of the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights.

‘Improving respect for women’s rights cannot be postponed until the conflict is over. The federal government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, supported by the international community, should undertake urgent legal and social reform to ensure that victims of violence do not continue to suffer in silence,’ he adds.

Notes to editors

Mark Lattimer, Executive Director (English)

Miriam Puttick, Civilian Rights Officer and report author (English, Arabic)

ASUDA (Arabic, Kurdish, English)

 

For further information or to arrange interviews contact:

Emma Eastwood, Senior Media Officer, Minority Rights Group International (London)

E: emma.eastwood@mrgmail.org
T: +44 2074224205
M: +44 7989699984

@MinorityRights

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