SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The 16 days campaign against gender-based violence commenced in the Kurdistan Region on Wednesday, with the participation of a number of organizations and activists.
The 16 days of activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. It begins every year on November 25 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the social and economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is “disproportionately” pushing women and girls into poverty, and the risk of violence against them is rising.
“The global community needs to hear the voices and experiences of women and girls and take into account their needs, especially survivors and those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination,” Guterres added.
“We must also prioritize women’s leadership in finding solutions and engage men in the struggle,” he stated.
The Kurdistan Region’s High Council of Women’s Affairs said in a statement that girls and women had been affected by the negativities of the coronavirus pandemic, forcing them to stay at home being busy with housework.
“Inequality has risen during the coronavirus pandemic,” the high council of women’s affairs stated.
“We announce alongside the international community that works to end violence need kindness, response and protection,” the statement read.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said he would use “all of his political and legal power” to detain and bring to justice those who kill women and carry out violence against women.
Talabani added that more than 8,000 women had faced violence in the Kurdistan Region in the past 10 months.
As many as 3,846 cases of violence against women, including sexual assault, have been recorded in the Kurdistan Region in the first six months of 2020, according to the directorate general to combat violence against women and family.
There were three cases of murdering, 13 cases of suicide, 26 cases of self-immolation, 3,769 cases of complaints and 35 other cases of sexual assault, the directorate’s figures showed.
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani reiterated the Region’s commitment to women rights and continued efforts to eliminate gender-based violence, hoping the activities will not be limited to only the 16-day campaign.
“Women are facing a heavy burden of responsibilities both at home and workplaces, including those who work in the education and healthcare sectors,” Barzani said in a statement. “The economic and financial crises caused by coronavirus, along with existing political tensions in our Region, have challenged women’s achievements.”
“We reassure everyone that we are working with relevant government institutions to protect these achievements, eliminate gender-based violence and guarantee social justice. We also stand firmly beside you in your combat against bullying and harassment wherever they occur, whether at home, workplace or in any other public spaces,” he added.
“Gender-based violence is a human right issue and concerns the whole of society. Men should play a more effective role, getting involved in activities for the elimination of violence so that they become part of the solution.”
The Region’s president called on the international community to intensify their efforts to better support gender issues within government institutions in the Kurdistan Region.
“I hope that the activities to combat gender-based violence will not be limited to this 16-days’ campaign, but become a daily effort, by both women and men, to ensure peace, equality and justice,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi President Barham Salih said the federal government “must” take urgent measures to provide relief and more work need to be done to eliminate factors that institutionalize discrimination.
Separately, Co-president of the patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said women are part of the political and civic struggle in the Kurdish community.
“The PUK completely believes in that struggle and we will always be supportive to obtain women’s rights,” Talabani added.
“I stand against discrimination and inequality against women’s demands and I will be the protector of achieving their demands and rights, and I will make efforts prevent any violence carried out against women under any justification,” he continued.