Iraq: Unchanging Laws Enable Abuse with Impunity

Publication Date: 
October 11, 2011
Huffington Post

BAGHDAD -- Salma Jassim was beaten, kicked out of her marital home with her newborn daughter on her shoulder and then deserted by her husband. But she says the threat she faces from her own family, who feel shamed because of her divorce, is just as bad as the abuse.

There are few places in Iraq where Jassim can turn for help. Iraqi experts believe that domestic abuse has increased during the years of war and economic hardship since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. But attempts to strengthen laws to protect women have gone nowhere in the face of heavy cultural and religious resistance.<--break->

Iraq: Shadow Report on UN Universal Periodic Review

Publication Date: 
February, 2010

Stakeholder Report the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process by Karama - Feb. 2010

1. Executive Summary

1.1 Improvements since 2005

Iraq has demonstrated certain efforts to improve the human rights of women in these past four years. The quota in effect for elections of 2005 and 2009 increased women's representation in national and provincial legislative bodies to 25%, one of the highest levels in the region. Also, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq amended its Personal Status Law in 2008 to place restrictions on polygamy, created emergency shelters to provide a measure of protection to women from violence, established a Cabinet-level Committee on Violence against Women, and set up a Directorate to Follow up Violence against Women in each KRG governorate.

Iraq: Fight for Women’s Rights Begins All Over Again

Publication Date: 
September 13, 2011

BAGHDAD, Sep 13, 2011 (IPS) - When a middle-aged mother took a taxi alone from Baghdad to Nasiriyah, about 300 kilometres south earlier this year, her 20-year-old driver stopped on the way, pulled her to the side of the road and raped her. And that began a telling legal struggle.

"She is not a simple case," says Hanaa Edwar, head of the Iraqi rights-based Al-Amal Association, established in Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Iraq: Attacks continue on women human rights defenders

Publication Date: 
August 25, 2011
The Other Tahrir Square: Attacks continue on Women Human Rights Defenders in Iraq. Photo credit: OWFI

FRIDAY FILE: Women have been at the forefront of demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the recent popular uprisings, which have received much media and international attention. In contrast, coverage of attacks on women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Iraq’s Tahrir Square demonstrations has been limited, AWID asks why.

Iraqi Kurdistan Bans Female Genital Mutilation

Publication Date: 
July 26, 2011

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday welcomed a draft law banning female genital mutilation by the regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Family Violence Bill approved June 21 by the autonomous government includes several provisions criminalising the practice in Kurdistan, HRW, said, adding that prevalence of FGM among girls and women in Kurdistan "is at least 40 percent."

"By passing this law, the Kurdistan regional government has shown its resolve to end female genital mutilation and to protect the rights of women and girls," said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Yanar Mohammed: Iraqi Women’s Vigilant Champion

Publication Date: 
June 28, 2011
Women's Media Center (WMC)
Yanar Mohammed has a message from Iraqi women for President Obama.

The democratic spirit of the Arab Spring uprisings is alive and well in the determination of women protesters in Iraq, who are seeing their rights slip away under the current administration.

Although the focus of many media reports has been on Egypt’s Tahrir Square, there is another Tahrir Square that demands our attention—the one in Baghdad.  On June 10, members of the (OWFI) were attacked and sexually molested as they gathered there to make demands. 

Iraq: Toying with polygamy as solution for war widows

Publication Date: 
January 26, 2011
Iraq: Politicians have suggested financial incentives for men who marry widows

Years of conflict in Iraq have left the country with more than one million war widows and a shortage of young unmarried men - pressures that may be bringing about the return of polygamy.

Hanan lost eight members of her family in the war, including her husband, and was left to bring up three children alone.

The experience has not broken her. She continues to work as a hairdresser in her noisy and lively home on Haifa Street in Baghdad.

Homosexuality Fears Over Gender Equality in Iraqi Kurdistan

Publication Date: 
December 20, 2010

Despite the predominance of a male religious culture, Kurdish women are taking on more and more traditionally male activities. These young women are preparing for a marathon in Erbil.

Iraq: An Underground Railroad for Iraqi Women

Photo of Yannar Mohammed from OWFI, co-founder of the Underground Railroad.

 and the  work together to meet the needs of survivors of gender-based violence and to empower Iraqi women to defend their rights. 


In 2003, the US invaded Iraq. Since then, more than one million Iraqis have been killed, civil war has raged, and four million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes. Despite promises of "democratizing" Iraq, the US supported Islamist political forces bent on dismantling women's legal rights.

“They Took Me and Told Me Nothing”: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan

Publication Date: 
June, 2010
Human Rights Watch

I remember my mother and her sister-in-law took us two girls, and there were four other girls. We went to Sarkapkan for the procedure.