Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Women in Kurdistan Push for Change

As reported by Margaret Besheer for Kurdish Media, “the women in the city of Sulaimaniyah are trying to change the status quo and help women caught in difficult and often violent situations.” Besheer reports that “women in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq are represented in the new national assembly, but in the tribal, male-dominated society of rural areas, women are often treated as second class citizens.”

“The Asouda shelter for abused women opened five years ago in Sulaimaniyah,” Besheer says. “Since then, this independently-funded center has helped dozens of women victims of domestic violence, offering shelter, legal services and counseling.” The center also offers “literacy and sewing classes, with the aim of helping the women to help themselves,” Besheer reports. Khanim Rahim Latif, Asouda’s director, says “in many cases, Asouda is successful in mediating women’s problems, and they are able to return to their husbands and families.”

There are other women’s advocacy groups out there as well. Runak Faraj Rahim is a social worker and researcher at the Rewan Center for Women’s Issues. Rahim has “written extensively on the issue of honor killings in Kurdish society, women who are killed by their fathers or brothers, if they suspect she has had extra-marital relations with a man,” Besheer reports.

Rahim says that “after the 1991 Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein’s regime, women began to question how honor killings could continue when their society was supposed to be free. Women’s groups began to form to raise awareness of the issue and to advocate for new legislation to punish those who commit honor killings.”

According to Besheer, “women in the Kurdistan region are committed to improving their lives and their daughters’ futures, and they hope their work will be the catalyst for change.”

To read this article in full click here.


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