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Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 1 of 14
Legal Aspects of
The Law agnce
in Kurdi
Noor Omer
International
Studies and Law
May 2020



Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 2 of 14
Content
Introduction ...........................................................................................................................3
Purpose of the Law ...............................................................................................................4
Forms of Violence in terms of Family Relationships..............................................................6
Protections from Family Violence..........................................................................................7
The Roles of Agencies in KRG..............................................................................................9
Procedural Lawsuits .............................................................................................................9
How Does the law of Domestic and Family Violence Impact Children……………………9
The relationship between the Iraqi Criminal Law and the Law against Domestic Violence 10
Legal Codes and Punishments ..........................................................................................11
Conclusion ..........................................................................................................................12
References..........................................................................................................................13

Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 3 of 14
Introduction
The implementation of the Law against Domestic Violence in Kurdistan has experienced a set
of complications. The Law of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region – Iraq is referred to
as Law number (8) of 2011, passed by the Kurdistan Parliament. Legal and human rights activists still
debate as to whether this law will help decreasing domestic violence. More importantly, the legal
context of the Law of Combating Domestic Violence is perceived as nonconforming to the social
customs and norms by the Kurdish society. The incompatibility of the Law is a major force behind the
difficulties for implementing it in KRG. However, it is important to grasp the importance of the Law
in spite of the challenge(s) and incompetency set forth by the Kurdish society as Iraq still has no law
pertaining to Domestic Violence.
It is true that the Law might not have been perfectly designed to protect victims of domestic
and family violence. Nonetheless, the Law is indispensable and works as an incentive to breaking the
structure and institutionalization of norms associated with the tribal Kurdish society. Despite the
formation of the Law to combating gender-based violence, it has failed in protecting the victims. The
footages of case upon case recorded, confirm the fact that domestic violence is rather a plague in the
region, which needs immediate response from agencies involved with this issue. This essay is designed
to critically evaluate the legal aspects of the Law of Combating Domestic Violence in KRG in terms
of (1) its applicability; (2) the protections and (3) the punishments provided.

Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 4 of 14
Purpose of the Law
Any act of gender-based violence is considered to be a major violation of women’s human
rights worldwide.
1 In fact, victims of violence can be of any sex however, “domestic violence in most
cases is perpetrated by men against women.”
2 In light of these facts, the major purpose of the Law
seems to focus on establishing strategies of prevention, protection and prosecution of gender-based
violence in the region. Such strategies in turn are aimed at realizing the full advancement of women
and providing legal protection against the regime of terror they might encounter within family.
Nevertheless, the Law has proven to be ineffective in countering violence against women in the
Kurdish public and private sphere for several reasons. The scale and the intensification of genderbased violence has not been reduced to a large degree, chiefly because of the delayed implementation
of the Law. Zeynep N. Kaya writes that it is hard to ascertain whether the laws and institutional rules
are genuine or instrumental at the policy level.
3 Cases of domestic violence are registered on a regular
basis suggesting that the Law has no major impact on preventing domestic violence.
4
The data below demonstrates statistics of violence in 2010 compared to statistics of violence
in May 2019. Prior to passing the Law number (8) of 2011, the number of domestic violence cases
recorded are 4075 for 2010 while after passing the law, 986 cases of domestic violence are recorded
only in May 2019. If the 986 cases were to multiply by 12 [the number of months in 2019], then there
would be at least more than 11000 cases. Hence, not even the passing of the Law has not made a
difference in eliminating all forms of gender-based violence. Rather, the statistical rise suggest that the
major purpose of the Law to implement preventive measures against gender-based violence has failed.
1 Sulaiman, Ghuson N. "DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN KURDISTAN REGION." PhD diss.,
University of Duhok, (2013), [p.2].
2 ibid.
3 Kaya, Zeynep N. "Gender and statehood in the Kurdistan region of Iraq." (2017).
4 Statistics of domestic violence in July, August and September in 2019. For more information see, Director
General of combating VAW. “Ministry of Interior of Combating Violence against Women.” (2019),
https://www.bgtakrg.org/en/
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 5 of 14
Table 1: Statistics of Violence in 2010
Data source: Human Rights Monitoring Project (2013)
Table 2: Statistics of Violence in May 2019
Data source: Director General of combating VAW (2019)
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Forms of Violence in terms of Family Relationships
For the purpose of the Law number (8) of 2011, violence in the sphere of family relationships is
well defined in Article 1. First, family is defined as “a group of natural persons having marital or blood
relations up to the fourth degree and all the legally recognized family members.”
5 Second, domestic
violence is defined as “any act, statement, threat or omission committed on the basis of gender by one
member of the family against another member up to the fourth degree that result in physical,
psychological, sexual or economic harm or deprivation of rights.”
6 Article 2 of the Law gives 13
common, specific examples or acts that constitute domestic violence including:
“(1) Forced marriage; (2) Exchange marriage (marital exchange) and child marriage; (3)
Marriage to settle feuds; (4) forced divorce; (5) Cutting off social relation; (6) Forced prostitution; (7)
Female genital circumcision; (8) Forcing family member to leave employment; (9) Forcing children to
beg work and leave school; (10) Suicide as the result of domestic violence; (11) Abortion as the result
of domestic violence; (11) Physical punishment of family member and children under any excuses and
(13) Humiliating, insulting, belittling, intimidating, harming, psychological pressure, violation of rights
and forced sexual intercourse.”
7
Evaluation
Although the Law identifies major crimes of gender-based violence, it still lacks some legal
aspects that should have been considered by the lawmakers. Professor Sulaiman categorizes violence
against women in Iraqi Kurdistan into three classifications including (1) structural violence
(economic); (2) cultural violence (tradition and society) and (3) direct violence.
8 The Law does include
the last two classifications, cultural and direct violence. However, the millstone of restricting women
5 Al-Masalla. “Monitoring Report on the Implementation of Domestic Violence Law in Kurdistan Region.” Human
Rights Monitoring Project,
(2013); Article 1 (2).
6 ibid; Article 1 (3).
7 ibid; Article 2 (1).
8 Supra, note (1), [p.2].
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 7 of 14
from full advancement in public and private sphere is missing, economic violence. Women’s economic
independence is considered a way out of domestic violence and it is widely recognized as “a
prerequisite for enabling women to exercise control over their lives and to make genuine choices.”
9 In
fact, economic violence occurs when “a male abuser maintains control of the family finances, deciding
without regard to women how the money is to be spent or saved, thereby reducing women to complete
dependence for money to meet their personal needs.”
10 Thus, the lack of identifying economic violence
in the Law is a weakness because even if women want to take action to combat violence, they feel tied
up because “man is the house owner and provider for the daily life.”
11 Hence, to combat violence
against women, the law should have aimed at eliminating structural barriers and provided separate
article(s) to deal with economic violence in the region.
Protections from Family Violence
Under the law, victims of domestic violence have right to protection from domestic violence.12
First, the victims or their representative can file a complaint to report a case.13 Second, the victims
shall receive assistance form agents of health and education institutions.
14 Third, the victims have the
right to be protected from open investigations and information of the cases shall remain confidential.
15
Finally, shelter, social security net, healthcare and rehabilitation houses are provided for the victims
as well.
16 The protections also extend to cases when the complaint willfully wishes to withdraw the
case through the Domestic Violence Court. For instance, the protection order includes three conditions.
First, the defendant has to pledge not to attack the plaintiff or any of her family members.
17 Second,
9Gutiérrez, S. Laura. ”Women’s economic independence, a way out of violence: a toolkit for anti-violence centers
operators.” WE GO, (2017), [p.12].
10Fawole, Olufunmilayo I. "Economic violence to women and girls: is it receiving the necessary
attention?"
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 9, no. 3 (2008): 167-177.
11 Supra, note (1), [p.2].
12 Supra, note (5), [p. 5]; Article 2 (2) of the Law.
13 Article 2 (3) (a).
14 Article 2 (3) (b).
15 Article 2 (3) (c).
16 Article 3.
17 Article 3 (1).
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 8 of 14
the victim should have the right to healthcare if she wishes.18 Third, as per the Court’s orders, the
defendant is prohibited from visiting the family home.
19 However, these protections do not fully
address nor meet the victims’ long-term needs thus the women cannot safely reintegrate into their
families or society.
20
In some cases, the Law fails to extend to individuals whose cases relate to gender-based
violence such as honor killing, rape or runaway women. These women are detained under Article 240
of the Iraqi Penal Code and the Law does not exercise legal agency. For instance, in KRG, a twentyone years old woman was raped and became pregnant though the perpetrator was punished merely for
1-year detention.
21 Besides, the woman was detained indefinitely under Article 240 to protect her from
being murdered by her family meanwhile she gave birth to the child in the detention center.
22 Only
after the birth she was moved to a shelter. There are three things to observe in these type of cases.
First, even though she is the victim of sexual violence, the protections provided by the Law of number
(8) of 2011 are ineffective and it does not have legal agency to rule the case for reasons unknown.
Second, since her family attempted to kill her, it is clear that the Law cannot possibly “change the way
people think and perceive the woman’s role in society.”
23 Finally, the male abuser was subject to 1-
year punishment, which suggests the fundamental flaws in the Law and its inability to deal with such
sensitive cases.
18 Article 3 (2).
19 Article 3 (3).
20 Supra, note (5), [p. 38].
21 ibid, [p.45].
22 ibid, [p.45].
23 ibid, [p.4].
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 9 of 14
The Role of Agencies in KRG
According to the Law, the major competent body monitoring the Law is the General Directorate
of Combating Violence against Women in the Ministry of Interior. The main task of this agency is to
follow up cases of domestic violence and assist victims in attaining justice. The Court of Domestic
Violence has the ultimate authority in deciding the cases admitted to it. Following, the Ministry of
Labor and Social Affairs shall provide shelter for victims of domestic violence in accordance with
Article 3 (2). In addition, the Ministry of Health stays in touch with the Ministry of Labor and Social
Affairs in order to provide health care and necessary rehabilitation for victims of domestic violence.
24
More importantly, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is entrusted with establishing specialized
unit within the police force, staffed primarily by policewomen, to act on cases of domestic violence.
25
Accordingly, these entire specialized departments shall contribute to awareness raising in relation to
combating domestic violence.
26
Procedural Lawsuits
The procedures of filing a lawsuit in these cases concerns Article 2 (3) (a) of the Law. The Article
stipulates the victims of domestic violence or their legal representatives can file complaints in the
Court or inform investigator, police station or the police prosecutor. This means that if the plaintiff is
a child, then their legal representative such as father, mother or any other legal guardian represents her
or him. Nonetheless, the Law addresses child abuse merely in Article 2 in cases concerning (1) child
marriage; (2)
Forcing children to beg work and leave school and (3) Physical punishment of family member
and children under any excuses.
27
24 Article 3 (4).
25 Article 3 (6).
26 Article 3 (7).
27 Article 2.
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 10 of 14
The Relationship between the Iraqi Criminal Law and the Law against
Domestic Violence in KRG
If anything, gender inequality and the pandemic of gender-based violence combine both the
Iraqi Penal Code No. 111 of 1969 and the Law against Domestic Violence in KRG though in a
completely different way. One similar aspect is that both Iraq and the KRG became a signatory to the
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1986. However, they
both acceded with reservations, “particularly in relation to its family law that regulates marriage,
divorce and inheritance.”
28 Despite the fact that the Iraqi constitution expressly prohibits “all forms of
violence and abuse in family,”
29 the Iraqi Penal Code does not explicitly address/mention domestic
violence by name. Only the KRG has developed laws on domestic violence. Besides, the Iraqi Criminal
Law merely criminalizes physical assault and further supports gender-based violence as Article 41(1)
gives “a husband a legal right to “punish” his wife within limits prescribed by law or custom.”
30 In
addition, both laws resemble each other since they chiefly focus on reconciliation over protection and
justice for victims
31 though the Iraqi law rather prioritizes reconciliation.
28 Supra, note (3), [p. 6].
29 Human Rights Watch. “Iraq: Urgent Need for Domestic Violence Law.” hrw.org, (2020).
30 ibid.
31 ibid.
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 11 of 14
Legal Codes and Punishments
The legal punishments prescribed by the Law chiefly constitute violent acts within (1) Protection
orders; (2) female genital circumcision and (3) domestic violence overall. First, in case of violence
against protection order, Article 4 (4) stipulates that “the violator shall be arrested for a period no
longer than (48) hours or a minimum fine of (300,000) three hundred thousand Iraqi Dinars.”
32 Second,
regarding female genital circumcision, those who promote it shall be punished with “a fine ranging
from minimum (1,000,000) one million IQDs and maximum (5,000,000) five million IQDs.”
33 Further,
those who administer or/and participate in the process shall be punished with “a fine ranging from
minimum (1,000,000) one million IQDs and maximum (5,000,000) five million IQDs.”
34
Moreover, same punishment goes for anyone who administer and/or participate underage
female genital circumcision with a slightly heavier fine. It is equally important to mention that if the
perpetrator was a doctor, pharmacist, chemist or midwife or their assistants, the punishment is severer
and the Court will order the professional disqualification for maximum three years.
35 Third, Article 7
covers a wider range of domestic violence as anyone who engages in it will be punished with “(1) a
prison term ranging from minimum six months and maximum three years and/or (2) a fine ranging
from minimum one million IQDs and maximum five million IQDs.”
36 These sets of laws are without
prejudice to any heavier penalty provided for in the laws of KRG.
32 Supra, note (5).
33 ibid; Article 6 (1).
34 Article 6 (2).
35 Article 6 (4).
36 Article 7.
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 12 of 14
Conclusion
The Law against domestic violence is still an unfinished agenda in the region in which certain major
amendments are required to broaden the legal aspects of the Law. It is true that at policy level the KRG
has developed towards gender equality and the elimination of gender-based violence. However, the
Law has fundamental weaknesses such as the exclusion of economic violence, which could factor in
bettering women’s condition and quality of life in the region. Furthermore, the protections provided
by the Law do not serve victims of domestic violence because the lawmakers gave special attention to
reconciliation rather than highlighting social justice for the victims.

Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 13 of 14
References
The Parliament of Kurdistan-Iraq. “The Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan RegionIraq: Act No.8 from 2011.” (2011),
http://www.ekrg.org/files/pdf/combat_domestic_violence_english.pdf (in English)
https://www.parliament.krd/media/2316/%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%89-
%DA%98%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87-8-%D9%89-
%D8%B3%D8%A7%DA%B5%D9%89-2011-%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%89-
%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B1%D9%87-
%D9%86%DA%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%88%D9%86%D9%87-
%D9%88%D9%87-%D9%89-%D8%AE%DB%8E%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%84%D9%87-
%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%88-%D8%AA%DB%8C%DA%98%D9%89-
%D9%84%D9%87-%D9%87%D9%87-%D8%B1%DB%8E%D9%85%D9%89-
%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%80-
%D8%B9%DB%8E%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82.pdf
(in Kurdish)
Sulaiman, Ghuson N. "DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN KURDISTAN REGION." PhD
diss., University of Duhok, (2013)
http://kugoo.uod.ac/etheses/f_o_h/book2/Domestic%20violence%20against%20women%20in%20k
urdistan%20region.pdf
Kaya, Zeynep N. "Gender and statehood in the Kurdistan region of Iraq." (2017).
http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/69197/1/GenderandStatehoodKRG.pdf
Statistics of domestic violence in July, August and September in 2019. For more information see,
Director General of combating VAW. “Ministry of Interior of Combating Violence against Women.”
(2019),
https://www.bgtakrg.org/en/
Al-Masalla. “Monitoring Report on the Implementation of Domestic Violence Law in Kurdistan
Region.”
Human Rights Monitoring Project, (2013
https://ar.iraqicivilsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Law-8-English-Final.pdf
Gutiérrez, S. Laura. ”Women’s economic independence, a way out of violence: a toolkit for antiviolence centers operators.” WE GO, (2017),
http://www.fundacionmujeres.es/img/Document/139720/documento.pdf
Fawole, Olufunmilayo I. "Economic violence to women and girls: is it receiving the necessary
attention?"
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 9, no. 3 (2008): 167-177
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5354240_Economic_Violence_To_Women_and_Girls
Human Rights Watch. “Iraq: Urgent Need for Domestic Violence Law.” hrw.org, (2020).
https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/22/iraq-urgent-need-domestic-violence-law
Domestic Violence in KRG May 2020 Page 14 of 14
Gender-based Violence in KRG:
Legal Aspect of the Law against Domestic
Violence in Kurdistan
Author
Noor Kamaran Omer
Supervised
Ali Ahmed

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