UNITE! Activism to end violence against women 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2022
06 December 2022
Renewed Calls for Accountability to Counter Criminal Violence Against Women
Baghdad, 6 December 2022 - Academics, lawyers, women’s rights defenders, and civil society members, together with UNAMI’s Human Rights Office, renewed the call for the Government of Iraq to rigorously pursue accountability for gender-based crimes, including domestic violence.
This latest call came during an expert panel discussing institutional and legal reform needed to strengthen the protection of women and girls from gender-based violence. Experts highlighted that the absence of a legislative framework criminalizing domestic violence is a key factor accounting for its high prevalence throughout Iraq.
They emphasized that impunity for domestic violence often results from the application of provisions included in the Iraqi legal framework, such as Article 409 of Iraq’s penal code which provides mitigating factors for so-called “honour killings”. Equally problematic is the common practice of referring domestic violence cases for reconciliation, as enabled by Article 41 of the Penal Code which provides the legal right to husbands to “discipline” their wives.
On due diligence, speakers noted that obstacles such as insufficient numbers of female police officers, conservative mindsets of authorities, slow investigation and lack of follow-up structures impede the effective investigation, prosecution and punishment of gender-based crimes.
Concerning the issue of protection, experts recommended that increasing the number of Ministry of Interior Family Protection Units, shelters, and domestic violence courts as well as their adequate staffing with personnel (including women) well-trained on women’s rights would contribute to the better protection of survivors and those at risk.
UNAMI recognizes the efforts by authorities to counter violence against women, encourages concerted steps towards prevention, protection and accountability and urges the Council of Representatives to repeal Articles 41 and Article 409 of the Penal Code.
UNAMI further calls for the enactment of a law that explicitly criminalizes gender-based violence, in accordance with international human rights standards, together with improved services for survivors and those at risk.
The UN family in Iraq will continue to support the Government of Iraq in these efforts.