February 20, 2024
Gheed Moayad
(Duhok, Iraq)


Baghdad, Iraq - Women in Iraq have endured domestic violence for a long time. The situation is much worse in conservative villages and towns, where women are often subjected to severe, life-threatening abuse. The dynamics are changing, albeit slowly.  It remains a significant issue. 


Interestingly, it's not just women rising up in protest, but some men as well. This, of course, affects how those men are perceived in society, questioning their masculinity. While there are organizations attempting to support women, their impact is limited due to the pervasive corruption in the government, which ranks among the most corrupt globally, ranking 157 out of 180 in 2022.

Amidst this turmoil, I interviewed an activist risking his life to shed light on women's stories. Noor al-Hasan, an activist from Baghdad, began sharing women's stories on social media in 2021. Witnessing the violence and oppression against women in society and among his acquaintances, he decided to bring attention to these issues on social media.


The Iraqi Community Police/Social Police

The Iraqi Community Police consists of two divisions addressing domestic violence and women's issues, though they are relatively new and play a minor role. If they hear about an incident, they visit the affected households, issue a warning, and require the offender to sign a paper acknowledging the wrongdoing. Persistent offenders could face jail time or fines.


Iraqi Law protects the murderer - Article 409

Article 409, also known as "غسل العار" or Cleansing Honor, stipulates that a murderer of a woman (father or brother) can receive a jail sentence ranging from only 6 months to 1 year, often reduced to 10 months instead of the full 12 months.


Slaughter of women with impunity

 Aya Al-Mousawi, a young woman born in 2003, created an Instagram account a year ago to share her ordeal. Her father was harassing her, chaining her, and expressing the intent to kill her. Despite involving the police and lawyers, the violence continued, landing Aya in prison in Hamdan, one of the country's worst jails, on her father’s false accusations of theft. Aya shaved her head in jail, and Noor states, "She is mentally miserable and confined in the jail.”

Recently, a young girl from Basra was tragically killed by her father because she failed in her classes. Instead of addressing the root cause, the father, under the influence of alcohol, fatally shot her. Although the police arrested him, activists fear he may be released after 6-10 months, by Iraqi Law.


The Wilson Center reports: “An estimated 1.3 million people in Iraq (out of a population of 40 million) are estimated to be at risk for different forms of gender-based violence, and more than 75 percent of them are women and adolescent girls.”

Amidst the chaos in the world right now, and especially in the MENA region, women in Iraq continue to be tormented and even killed. When I inquired about the situation in Baghdad, Noor said, "It is catastrophic." Aya's case is just one example of the daily suffering women endure. Women are being murdered regularly in the country for senseless reasons. The law needs to be enforced and changed to support women in society, as the current oppression is costing women their lives. There can be no real progress in Iraqi society without the participation of women.


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