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 Kurdish Womens Action Against Honour Killings (KWAHK)

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Roundup of media reports on honour-based violence and violent incidents involving women in Iraqi Kurdistan Region, May-December 2008 - 22/08/2009

New Project Investigating Honour-Based Violence - 08/09/2008

Job opportunity at KWRW - 08/09/2008

Reports of honour-based murders and suspected murders, April 2008 - 13/06/2008

Roundup of reports on honour-based murders and attempted or suspected murders, March 08 - 12/06/2008

Roundup of reports on honour-based violence and violent incidents involving women in Kurdistan Region, February 2008 - 26/05/2008

Roundup of reports on honour-based violence and violent incidents involving women in Kurdistan Region, December 2007 -January 2008 - 26/05/2008

Roundup of reports on honour-based violence and violent incidents involving women in Kurdistan Region, September/ October 2007 - 26/05/2008


Blame on Clerics for Prevalence of Honor Killing in Kurdistan
10/10/2010   Rudaw- SORAN BAHADIN
ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan: Shawbo Abdul-Razaq, 20, was talking to an alleged boy by phone as her father came over in one of the poor Kurdish neighborhoods of Erbil. He shot her to death right there, according to a neighbor who witnessed the event.

Shawbo was murdered in Qatewi, a rural neighborhood in the capital of the federal region of Kurdistan in the north of Iraq. The murderer has run away.

Such a killing is often labeled as an extreme case of “honor killing”. Honor killing is about killing a woman for having alleged pre-marriage sexual relations or extra-sexual relations with other men in addition to her husband.

While widely perceived as a cultural phenomenon here in the Kurdish society, many people blame religious men for putting a blind eye on it or even justify it.

Hassan Yusuf, a post-graduate student studying sociology at the University of Salahaddin, says that there is a lack of religious support to combat violence against women the region.

“The Mullahs [clerics] have yet to be able to inform people not to kill women. Most people have used religion as a justification after they killed a woman,” said Yusuf.

But Mullah Ali Khate, who is a member of Kurdistan’s Fatwa Committee- a body that issues religious verdicts-, says most religious preachers have made it clear that nobody has the right to randomly kill someone. He said they have informed the people that the court is the only institution to make such a decision.

“If a married woman or man had adultery in the presence of four witnesses, their punishment would be death by Islam,” said Khate. “But this has to be decided by the court.”

“However, if a single girl or boy did so, there would be not death sentence.”

Khate advised all Mullahs to pay further attention to women issues in their Friday’s preaching.

In 2002, the Kurdistan Parliament amended a law, which had allowed the practice honor killing, to a new law that says killing a woman under any name is a “normal murder” and the perpetrator is a criminal who may get 20-25 years prison terms.

Mullah Khidr Aziz, a preacher in the Khabat neighborhood in Erbil, believes that 90 percent of clerics do not talk against honor killing because they are influenced by the culture.

“I asked them why you don’t talk about women killing. They said because they are afraid of people’s reactions,” said Aziz.

Yusuf, the sociologist, said that women rights activists often face problems when they push for more women rights and speak out against honor killing.

“If a woman activist says it, people would say this woman want to corrupt our women,” said Yusuf. “But this is not the case for Mullahs. They can have a better influence.”

Mullah Aziz has his own experience. He said one day a man who was praying next to him. But A few minutes after he had left the mosque, he killed his single sister because he saw her standing next to man home.

According to statistics provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government, 59 women were murdered in the first six months of this year. But local non-governmental organizations say the rate is much higher.

Sardar Hikmat, 25, said he often prays in the mosques but “rarely” hears clerics discussing the prevalence of violence against women in Kurdistan.

“Even if they talk about, they don’t go into details.”

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