Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Escalating gender-based violence in Basra forcing women to stay indoors

In Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, women are increasingly stay indoors due to increased levels of anti-women violence, police and NGOs told IRIN.

“Basra is facing a new type of terror which leaves at least 10 women killed monthly, some of them are later found in garbage dumps with bullet holes while others are found decapitated or mutilated,” the city’s police chief Maj. Gen. Abdel Jalil Khalaf told IRIN in a telephone interview. “The perpetrators are organized gangs who work under religious cover pretending to spread instructions of Islam but they are far from this religion. They are trying to impose a life style like banning women from wearing western clothes or forcing them to wear head scarf.”

Khalaf said that police in September found the body of a decapitated woman alongside that of her decapitated six-year-old son.

“We do believe that the number of murdered women is much higher as more cases go unreported by their families who fear reprisals from extremists,” he added.

A woman activist with a local NGO in Basra, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said that women, who are threatened by extremists, have approached her NGO but they cannot help them as they do not have shelters or appropriate places in the province for the women to take refuge in.

Iraq’s southern cities in general and specifically Basra don’t have these shelters for women, a matter that has derailed our efforts in helping them. And therefore we approach the local police, dignitaries and religious leaders to harbor them. Some of them accept it while others refuse,” she said.

The activist added that the issue has been raised many times with local officials in Basra but the city’s deteriorated security situation makes women’s rights the last on their list of priorities. “And women are left with only two choices: either to leave the city if they can afford it or stay locked in their houses,” she said.

For the full article, click here.


Post a Comment

<< Home