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WomenAEs murders, suicides decline in Kurdistan: WomenAEs murders, suicides decline in Kurdistan.

Byline: Qassim Khidhir

After raising the profile of womenAEs issues and offering abused or threatened women safe havens and the security to report their problems, Kurdistan must continue on its positive path to ending abuse against women once and for all.

While the number of women filing complaints of abuse has increased, Ari Rafiq, director of following-up violence against women [[What is his actual title?]] in Kurdistan RegionAEs Ministry of Interior, reported that the number of womenAEs murders and suicides has significantly declined during the first six months of 2008.

Rafiq said that in the first six months of 2007, 145 cases of female homicides and abuse and of women burning themselves were recorded compared with 50 recorded this year so far.

oThe number of complaints registered by women is about 90% compared with last year,o said Rafiq. oThe high number of complaints filed by women shows a positive awareness by them to defend themselves.o Rafiq explained that 80% of women who were killed or tortured by their husbands or parents or committed suicide are from rural areas; 95% are illiterate.

Investigators face tremendous obstacles in obtaining accurate information when following up on murder cases and women who burn themselves. When a woman kills herself by pouring kerosene on her body and lighting herself on fire because of the abuse she faces at the hands of her husband or parents, the victimAEs family most often falsely claims that she died in an accident.

At the beginning of 2007, statistics in Kurdistan Region showed that most women dare not file a complaint against their husbands or members of their family because they are financially dependent upon or fear them. To alleviate the fear, the Kurdish government opened police centers in cities to monitor violence against women and distributed emergency phone numbers in public places and newspapers for women subjected to violence in order to provide them with protection and legal options.

Captain Jilamo, head of ErbilAEs city police center responsible for following up on reports of violence against women, told The Kurdish Globe that his center begins investigating the minute he receives womenAEs complaints. If they find that the woman is in danger, she is taken to a womanAEs shelter.

Nawa Center

The Nawa Center (Tune Center) is the only shelter in Erbil city for women who have been threatened by their husbands or parents.

Nasreen Ahmed, a social researcher at the Nawa Center, said women residing there are often upset and ill at ease. oThey are always thinking about their problems; some of them have very difficult problems that are not easily solved,o said Ahmed. oSome of them tried to kill themselves by putting kerosene on their body or by using electricity, but the shelter stopped them.o

Currently, 12 women live at the shelter; since 2007, the shelter has taken in around 120 women with serious social problems, but only 12 remain. The rest returned to their homes after their problems were addressed.

The shelter not only provides women with safety and protection, but it also offers face-to-face therapy between abused women and their parents or husbands. Shelter officials are subjected to harassment when they take this approach, however.

oSometimes the womenAEs parents and husbands threaten us; they call us names just because we are protecting these women,o Ahmed said.

There are two female social researchers and one female employee at the shelter, as well as four policemen for added security, two each on the day and night shifts. The two social researchers always fear for their lives, they said.

Ahmed said the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is trying to send more women employees to the Nawa Center, but potential employees are afraid of being targeted by the abused womenAEs parents or other family members.

One of the policemen guarding the center, Jamal Hassan Mahmud, said he doesnAEt fear anyone because the security department gave them special phone numbers to call in case of urgency. oSometimes the womenAEs parents argue with us, but I have been here for more than a year and nothing bad has happened,o said Mahmud.

Ahmed said most women at the shelter face issues in dealing with men, including asking for divorces but being outright rejected by their husbands.

Mobile phones are also playing a troublesome hand in Kurdistan Region. Husbands or men often suspect that women are having relationships with other men via mobile phones, and in many Kurdish societies it is not acceptable for daughters, sisters, or wives to talk to unknown men on the telephone.

The Globe attempted to interview some women at the Nawa Center, but none wanted to speak, citing tiredness of their problems.

Ahmed believes several steps can help to end this crisis: The government should punish those who oppress women; awareness should be raised in women on their rights; and religious authorities should preach to men that they must respect women.

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Publication:The Kurdish Globe (Erbil, Iraq)
Date:Sep 14, 2008
Previous Article:An interview with Dr. Dindar Zebari.
Next Article:Society, Religion, and Violence: A humanistic perspective toward religion: Part XXII.

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