Support KMEWO in demanding Justice for Dunya !

On Friday 23rd May 2014, a 15 year’s old child bride was brutality murdered by her 45 years old polygamist husband in Iraqi Kurdistan – district Kalakji. Reports from Iraqi Kurdistan says that the husband removed one of the girl’s eyes, severed her breasts, disembowelled  , tied her to a car and dragged her body on the road and then firing nine bullets into her body. Police officials say they were unable to capture the murderer and that he fled the crime scene before the police arrived. The man is now on the run.

Honour Killing is a daily crime committed against women and young girls in the Region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Although hundreds of women fall victims of Honour Killings every year, the authorities seems unable or unwilling to offer them any protection.  According to official statistics in the last four months of 2014 alone, 14 women have been murdered.

Multilayers of crimes against Dunya:

Despite the tragic murder of this 15 years old child bride, Dunya, the reports after her death highlights a number of disturbing concerns relating to violence and oppression against women and girls:

1-    Child marriage twice:

Though only 15 years old, Dunya was put through another marriage (Bride exchange) when she was 11 years old, which did not work. At the age of 14 she was given to a man, 35 years older than her for 3500 US dollars. The legal age for marriage in Iraqi Kurdistan is 16 years old; which means no one under 16 should be married in the court, but it is known that underage marriage still happens, formally and informally and the authorities are turning a blind eye on them.  Many underage girls are either forced or encouraged to marriage, which are usually conducted by a local Cleric in secret.

2-    Continues Child abuse , rape and unreported Domestic Violence

The reports and investigation after Dunya’s murder is now bringing out her suffering and the many issues she has to deal with as a child. Speaking to the local media, Dunya ‘s mother is reported to have said that since the marriage 10 months ago, her daughter has been complaining about burns on her hand by her husband and his first wife , continuous beating by the husband’s first wife and his children. She also repeatedly suffered anal rape by her husband and other Domestic violence issues.

3-    Official neglects:

The KRG officials are claiming that they are taking many measures to help and protect women and young girls at risk or Honour crimes; including the installation of a helpline, and the setting up of a special departments and training for officers to deal with risks of Honour crimes. Yet according to Dunya’s mother she reported the danger to police hours before her body was found and it was hours before the police turn up to investigate.; The crime took place in the same small town and for hours no police force looked or concerned about Dunya . This is yet another ignorant act by officials in Iraqi Kurdistan.

4-    Tribal conciliation

While the perpetrator is still on the run; it is been reported that tribal deals has been offered to Dunya’s father, which is being considered. This is the most shameful and revolting way of dealing with crimes against women especially if the matter is related to “honour” ; if a tribal deal is agreed and Dunya’s father announce his forgiveness for a sum of money ; this will enormously reduce any judicial punishment and undermines the law that should not accepts any justification for killing women in the name of “honour” .

KMEWO and the undersigned organisations call on the Prime Minster of Kurdistan Regional Government ( Nechiravan Barzany) and the Kurdistan Parliament to ensure the following demands are met :

  • We at KMEWO holds KRG officials and the Directorate of Investigation DV partially responsible for the crimes; we also holds the police responsible and call for an independent investigation in to their roles in these crimes against Dunya .
  • We holds Dunya’s parents and the religious cleric who married her responsible for her suffering and untimely death; all these people must be brought to justice under the act No 8 anti DV law in Iraqi Kurdistan that prohibits child marriage.
  • We suspect that the perpetrator is been protected by local tribal leader; we call for an immediate investigation into those who called Dunya’s father for a tribal deal.
  • We demand that every effort is made to bring the perpetrator to justice and that no tribal deal should be accepted or reduce the sentence given for this brutal and aggressive crime against a child.
  • If because of an official or non-official tribal deal, the complaint against Dunya’s husband is withdrawn; we demand that the Attorney General act on the evidence available and not accepting any deals or forgiveness by Dunya’s parents who are already perpetrators of child marriage.

We call upon all human right organisations, all ante DV and Honour crimes organisations to support us in bringing this perpetrator to justice and not allowing any tribal deals or official’s ignorance to succeed.

If you are endorsing the above demands please send the name and email address of your organisation to info@kmewo.com.

Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women Organisation

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Organisation’s signatures:

  1. IMECE – Women Centre / UK – London
  2. Kurdish Women Project – UK
  3. ROJ Women Association – UK
  4. Iranian and Kurdish Women Rights Organisation IKWRO / UK
  5. Caxton House Community Centre / UK -Islington
  6. Kurdistan Sociologist and Psychologists Association
  7. Alliance for Workers Liberty – Women’s Forum /UK
  8. The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees / UK
  9. NINA Centre for defending women’s rights / Sweden
  10. WARVIN Foundation for Women Issues / Iraq
  11. ASUDA Women Centre / Iraq – Kurdistan
  12. Kurdistan Forum – Belgium
  13. International Free Women’s Foundation – Netherland
  14. Kurdish Women Centre in Köln – Germany
  15. Never Forget Pela and Fadime Organisation / Sweden (GAPF- Glöm Aldrig Pela och Fadime )
  16. Free Women’s Organisation in Kurdistan – RJAK
  17. Halabja Organisation – Iraqi Kurdistan
  18. Women Organisation in West Sweden ( kurdiska kvinnoförening i västra Götaland)
  19. Nergiz Society in Gothenburg – Sweden
  20. ASUDA Centre for The Development of Youth in Kurdistan – Iraq
  21. Women’s freedom Organisation in Kurdistan NINA
  22. IKAF – Iraqi and Kurdish Refugee Organisation in Norway

June 2, 2014

Solace launches new research demonstrating the long term impact of domestic violence

Solace Women’s Aid has launched the findings of a 3 year research project, Finding the Costs of Freedom, that examines how women and children rebuild their lives after domestic violence. Conducted in partnership with the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU), this is the first longitudinal study of it’s kind in Europe.

Tracking 100 women who had accessed one or more of Solace Women’s Aid services, the research identified that for all of the participants, removing themselves from the immediate control of an abusive man was only the first step. Over 90% experienced post-separation abuse, indicating the critical need for specialist support for women in the period after leaving an abusive situation.

Professor Liz Kelly, Director of CWASU, said:

“That 90% of the sample experienced post separation abuse shows that leaving violent men does not make women and children safe. Specialist support and the women’s own ongoing safety work was more effective here than interventions of statutory agencies.”

Women faced a series of barriers in accessing the resources to rebuild their lives and quality support from statutory agencies, including; protection from further abuse, housing, employment, financial support, divorce and safe child contact. These were exacerbated by changes to the legal and policy context over the course of the research.

The study highlighted that the specialist and holistic service provision at Solace Women’s Aid was critical to women being and feeling safe, as well as dealing with the legacies of abuse for themselves and their children through counselling and therapeutic support.

One of the participants in the research study said

“I don’t know what I would have done without them [Solace]…they were really helpful. They were so good, never judged, never made you feel bad…just supported.”

Mary Mason, Chief Executive of Solace Women’s Aid, said

“The research demonstrates that services which focus on short term risk reduction and time-limited provision is insufficient to support survivors rebuilding their lives after abuse.”

“This study provides a crucial evidence base, demonstrating the necessity to invest in the long term needs of women and children so that they can thrive in safety and freedom from abuse.”

Key recommendations that have emerged from the research include:

  1. All women and children who have experienced domestic violence should be able to access a range of practical and therapeutic support for a minimum of two years after separation from their abusers.
  2. All agencies dealing with victims of domestic violence should ensure staff are trained to recognise domestic violence and have an understanding of coercive control and the reality that leaving does not necessarily end abuse.
  3. Refuge provision should be guaranteed and funded through a national refuge fund with a move on pathway. Women and children made homeless through domestic violence should be acknowledged as a unique group fleeing crimes that take place in the home. This should be recognised through special measures, including the offer of a social housing tenancy.
  4. The end of crisis loans and community care grants has made the rebuilding process even more complex, and welfare benefit reforms have created serious hardship. A specific fund for families relocating due to domestic violence should be created by central government.
  5. Community resources and individuals hold the potential to be enablers or barriers to women rebuilding their lives. National and local awareness raising work needs to expand understanding of what domestic violence is, including post-separation abuse, alongside clear messages about listening to and respecting survivors and offering support when needed.

As one of the research participants said,

“I think there should be more Solaces…and there should be more training for the external world out there.”

The Executive Summary of Finding the Costs of Freedom is available here.

Press Release at http://www.solacewomensaid.org/press-release-finding-the-costs-of-freedom/

June 2, 2014

Laws on psychological abuse vital for women’s safety – Women’s Aid

A campaign is calling for psychological abuse to be made illegal, to help police and the courts support women who have experienced domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Law Reform Campaign aims to challenge views of domestic violence as being mostly about physical violence, by convincing the government to criminalise patterns of abusive behaviour and psychological abuse, and so-called “coercive control”.

The campaign has listened to the voices of women who’ve experienced violence and revealed that controlling and psychologically abusive behaviour is central to women’s experiences of violent partners. One such woman is Claire, from the West Midlands.

When Claire first met her partner, he swept her off her feet: he was charming and really interested in her, and seemed like he provided all the answers to her problems. Very quickly, she had moved to live with him and was unexpectedly pregnant. Knowing she couldn’t go back to her old job while pregnant, he isolated her from family and friends and demanded to know where she was every minute when they were apart. He constantly read her emails, texts, and phone records, denying her any privacy and tracked her movements through her phone. He would question her about where she’d been, threatening her and turning physically violent if she lied or couldn’t remember the specifics. He spread lies to her friends and family online, making them turn away from her. She felt she could never escape his control because it was so total.

Claire said:

“I felt that I had absolutely no escape. It was impossible to talk to anyone about my experiences and try to make plans to leave because I would have been found out and put in more danger. The constant hounding through so many different mediums and the total lack of privacy or being able to shake him off compounded the fear and made me feel that I would never, ever be free, even after I’d asked him to leave. I felt really low. The more isolated I got the more everyone assumed I had a really great life. I knew if I did something he didn’t like, he’d be physically violent. He controlled every aspect of my life, and left me terrified and feeling worthless and alone.”

The Domestic Violence Law Reform campaign released a survey of frontline domestic violence professionals today, showing wide support for a change in the law to reflect experiences like Claire’s. The survey of 182 frontline professionals working in the domestic violence sector revealed:

  • 96.7% thought psychological abuse and coercive control should be recognised in law
  • 56% reported that the police did not take into account patterns of perpetrator behaviour and coercive control in their investigations

Laura Richards, Chief Executive of Paladin said:

“Too many women have already lost their lives and more will continue to do so if we fail to understand coercive control as the dangerous behaviour that it is and recognise the pattern of abuse. Government need to listen to the voices of the professionals in this survey and to victims. They are the experts and they overwhelmingly say that the current legislative framework fails to protect victims. It’s a step in the right direction to include coercive control in the Government definition but Government must go further and ensure this is reflected in law. It’s time for change. We need to ensure that police, prosecutors and courts have the powers they need to hold perpetrators to account and keep women and children safe. This is about homicide prevention.”

Rhea Gargour, Chief Operating Officer for the Sara Charlton Charitable Foundation said:

“This survey offers invaluable insight for the campaign as it reflects what front line workers are experiencing on the ground. We know that the law needs to recognise that domestic violence is a pattern of both psychological and physical abuse and over 96% of those professionals who completed our survey agree. This overwhelming evidence further underlines the fact that the law must change in order for us to be able to effectively respond to this epidemic that currently kills two women every week.”

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said:

“Women and children cannot be properly supported by the justice system until the law reflects the reality of domestic violence: psychological abuse and control. Frontline domestic violence workers are overwhelmingly in favour of recognising coercive control and psychological abuse in law. We urge the government to criminalise coercive control, patterns of abusive behaviour, and psychological abuse to protect women like Claire.”

The Domestic Violence Law Reform Campaign is a partnership between Paladin, the Sara Charlton Charitable Foundation and Women’s Aid Federation of England.

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Notes

  1. Domestic violence professionals survey, Domestic Violence Law Reform Campaign, May 2014

For full details see http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-press-information.asp?itemid=3273&itemTitle=Frontline+domestic+violence+professionals+demand+law+change&section=0001000100150001&sectionTitle=Press+releases

May 30, 2014

Protect women only homelessness services in Bristol – Sign the petition #savewomenonlyservices @GeorgeFergusonx @MissingLink1983

Women’s Services are under attack.

Missing Link – mental health and housing services for women is launching a campaign to save and protect women’s services and we need your support.

Help save vital resources for women tweet

#savewomenonlyservices @GeorgeFergusonx

and follow @MissingLink1983

Please join this campaign and sign the online petition: http://chn.ge/1hQsSBe

Women only accomodation is currently under threat as part of Bristol City Council’s commissioning plan for medium level homelessness services.

The option currently favoured by Bristol City Council is to reduce the number of women only accommodation from 34 units to 10 units.

The evidence is that more women are accessing and needing services and that they continue to be in need of safe and secure women only accommodation.

Please sign this petition to pledge your support for women only accommodation and urge Bristol City Council to reconsider their proposal to reduce this vital and specialist service in Bristol.

Sign the petition at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/bristol-city-council-protect-women-only-homelessness-services-in-bristol

For more information http://www.missinglinkhousing.co.uk/missinglink/news/

May 30, 2014

5 June 2014 17:00 ~ Sexual Violence in Conflict – WILPF Webinar

This Series of regular Webinars is hosted by our WILPF Academic Network and will be featuring every two months in the lead-up to April 2015.

These Webinars are open for everybody, no prior knowledge or experience necessary! They feature any issue concerning peace and security from a gender perspective, including disarmament, human rights and the women, peace and security agenda.

If you are unsure how to join a Webinar, just click here for a step-by-step explanation. In short, after registering, you will get a link sent to your email. Click that link at the time of the Webinar and you will be connected to the live session.
Upcoming Webinars

Sexual Violence in Conflict
EPISODE 4; 5th June 2014; 18:00 Geneva Time (CET) 17:00 BST

Conflict-related gender violence is widespread, encompassing a range of human rights violations, and affecting not only women and girls, but men and boys as well. Sexual violence in armed conflict is used for many different purposes, including as a tool of economic exploitation, a mechanism of domination, a weapon of war, and an element of genocide.

It is a fundamental aspect of a global political economy of violence, fueling the criminalization of armed conflict and global erosions of safe spaces. Professor Janie Leatherman will be speaking about the causes and consequences of sexual violence in contemporary armed conflict. She will address the new trends in conflict-related sexual violence and arising challenges in humanitarian responses, reflecting on current strategies of prevention, protection, and caring.

Register at http://www.womenstopwar.org/wsw-webinar-series/

May 30, 2014