WOLA Reports
2022 A Report for Monitoring the Implementation of the Domestic Violence Law

Women’s Legal Assistance Organization
In coordination with NED American organization



An oversight report of the Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region- Iraq


2022 -2023


Prepared by Project Staff

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Introduction
As the Women’s Legal Assistance Organization، from the beginning of the issuance of “The Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region”، we have played the role of monitoring the implementation of the law in coordination with the American organization، NED. This is due to the critical importance of this act for Kurdish society. Initially، from the beginning of our monitoring، we focused mainly on the centers of the governorates، however، years after the issuance of the act and after publishing numerous reports regarding the implementation of the law، we decided to broaden the spectrum of our watch over this legal act. To accomplish this، we decided to also inspect the peripheries of the governorates and the rural areas to evaluate the degree to which these laws are being implemented in reality. In this report، we have shed light on the latest legal acts by the Kurdistan Parliament which had their first sitting in the year of 2021. In this report we discuss the importance of these laws and the degree to which they can potentially compensate for the shortcomings of the previous laws. Amongst other points discussed are the issues، shortcomings and the obstacles in the implementation of the laws in the areas which were included in our supervision and monitoring through interview with individuals and related parties who are relevant to or are affected by these laws. Also the statistics of all of the places in which the interviews were done have been put forth in the report; more importantly، we have been able to obtain statistical data from all over the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on the “The Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region”، the work of the committees، and domestic violence courts and this is to know how much awareness the public possess regarding these laws many years after its issuance and to what extent we need to work on raising legal awareness among the public. We have also attempted to answer to what extent the victims of domestic violence are satisfied with the proceedings of domestic violence courts. Finally، as a result of the issues and obstacles regarding the law that we discovered in various places، we have made several recommendations and presented forth solutions for these issues so that the articles of this act are implemented properly or at least decrease the obstacles in front of these laws so that they can play the important role that they have to play.
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The Most Important Achievements of the Project ( Monitoring the Implementation of the “The Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region”) and our Report of the Previous Years

After conducting many workshops، conferences، field visits،writing multiple reports on the implementation of the “The Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region”، and proposing solutions and recommendations to related parties to ensure peaceful implementation of the act، the Women’s Legal Assistance Organization managed to achieve a number of significant accomplishment of which the most important were:
1- Opening and establishing the Halabja branch of the General Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women
2- Raising concern and awareness about the “The Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region” in law schools. 
3- Opening the Specialized Domestic Misdemeanor Court in the Appellate Court of Sulaymaniyah.
4- Issuance of a specified order from the judge of Domestic Violence Investigation Court that domestic violence cases have to pass through the Reconciliation Committee before going to the court which will play a major role in reconciliation and resolving of the familial issues. This model will serve as a good experience and example to transfer over to the courts in the other cities. This is one of the important suggestions that needs to be addressed in the next amendment of the act. 
5- A special meeting on the situation of the women’s shelters and provision of a sufficient budget for them. 
6- Reorganizing and revising the affairs of the Reconciliation Committee through a unified and generalized method of managing the affairs. This was done through numerous consultant meetings with the committee members and related parties.
7- Issuance of a specific order for establishing a court specialized to domestic violence and women’s issues from the Kurdistan Government of Iraq. 

Family Problems and the Killing of Women as a Serious Threat
When the term “family problems” is mentioned، we are immediately think about psychological، physical، and sexual abuse while most of women’s cases of homocide and suicide happens inside family and on the hands of immediate family members (brother، father، husband،..). This is the reason that these cases are not reported and the offenders are not prosecuted. The court proceedings of these cases often face the issue of witness absence resulting from the prolonged and delayed sessions and their resolution inside the courts. 
       Despite that as the Women’s Legal Assistance Organization، we have continuously pointed out the dangers of the ever increasing cases of familial and social problems through our published reports but، to no avail، our voices remain unheard. If we only look at the statistics of June 2022، we see that without differences in the cities and districts of Kurdistan، we hear news of women’s killings on a daily and weekly basis. According to unofficial sources، more than 22 women have been murdered. For this sake، we have proposed a number of suggestions to the related parties، the government، parliament، diplomats and consulates so that together، we can participate and work on decreasing the incidence of women’s killings under the excuse of honor and social problems. 

A Memorandum to Related Parties in the Aim of Putting an End to Women’s Killings

To:
Kurdistan Region Presidency
Parliament Presidency
Prime Minister
Deputy Prime Minister
High Council of Women and Development
Judicial Council

With the objective of decreasing women’s killings and punishing offenders and criminals who commit murder under the pretense of honor، there is a need for serious effort so that cases of women’s issues are resolved as soon as reasonably possible through court and the law. As the statistics have shown us and as you are aware، each year at least 50 women are killed in our region. Only at the start of this year and in the month of April، 20 women have been killed for different reasons and under the pretense of honor. According to our research in Sulaymaniyah Criminal Court، in 2021 not a single case of women’s killing has been resolved. This is despite the fact that according to official sources، 40 women’s killings and 61 cases of suicide have been recorded in the same year and also similar numbers in the preceding years. There has come an imminent need for investigation in these cases and effort needs to be made  to finalize and resolve them in the shortest time conveniently possible. The need for quick action is because during investigation of these cases، lots of time is needed until the case reaches the Criminal Court. Unfortunately، this causes evidence of these cases to be lost due to the sheer number of cases inside the Criminal Court causing a further delay in the cases such that most cases of women’s killings are extended 2 to 3 years until resolution.

What is the solution?
1- We suggest that a decision is made that an investigation and criminal court be established specific to women’s killing whose duty is solely taking and investigating cases of women’s killing in which sessions are held weekly and on a daily basis. This is because، at the moment، the judges of the Criminal Court have a large number of crime cases which range from (homicide، theft، illegal drugs، traffic violations، rape……). That is why the cases of women cannot be given their due importance and the time between court sessions is more than one month in which confidentiality of the cases is violated frequently.
2- Gender balance among the judges of Criminal Court as well as a number of legal investigators and judicial assistants that are familiar with the court. There needs to be professional efforts in collecting witnesses and evidence، preparing relevant parties for the cases. This is in addition to the presence of public notaries and a more active role in following up with the cases so that the cases of women killings are determined easier and the criminals get their punishment faster so that they become a live example for others.                    

3. Activating the murder section in (preventing crime) so that the cases of women are investigated in detail as soon as possible and evidence is transferred to the specified courts. 
Kind Regards،
Women’s Legal Assistance organization
May 2022 







Statistics

Statistics of the Cases of Women’s Legal Assistance Organization
From 01/01/2022 until 30/06/2022


Reconciliation Closed Ongoing Total
9 24 76 109 Requests
74 Consultations


Sulaymaniyah Governorate
1- Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women- Sulaymaniyah
2021 2020 Year
3،805 2،317 Total Cases

2- Court of Domestic Violence Investigation
2021 2020
2323 2929 ongoing
1785 1646 Resolved
4،108 4،575 Total


3- Court of Domestic Violence Misdemeanor

2021 2020
389 187 Ongoing
156 29 Resolved
545 216 Total


Erbil Governorate

Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women/ Erbil Branch 
2020 2021
3،010 6،318


Duhok Governorate
2020 2021
11،221 3،269


Halabja Governorate
1-Domestic violence statistics 
2021 2020 Halabja Governorate
27 20 Hitting
19 4 Threatening
3    Taking away child 
  2 Accusations (allegations)
  3 Expelling from Home 
7   Defaming
5 7 Humiliation
  1 Misuse of Social Media Platforms 
7 Profanity(Discrimination)
1 Self-immolation
1 Suicide
1 7 Husbands not paying allowance(legal right)
1 Second marriage (by men) 
Adultery 
76 44 Total

From these statistics we have uncovered that complaints and domestic violence have increased. Nonetheless، Halabja Governorate has had the least number of domestic violence cases.

1- Statistics of divorce and marriage 2020-2021

Divorce Marriage Year
146 958 2020
298 1028 2021

From these statistics، it can be concluded that increases in the rate of marriage are negligent while divorce rates have increased two-fold which is mostly due to domestic violence in families. This problem needs to be addressed in order to save existing and upcoming families.

Raparin Province

1-Directorate of Combating Violence against women/ Raparin Branch

2021 2020
888 728




2-Statistics of Marriage and Divorce in the Raparin Court of First Instance
Divorce Mariage
185 814 2020
262 1232 2021



Garmiyan Administrative Province
Statistics of Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women- Garmiyan Branch
2021 2020
1124

In light of these statistics، we discover the violence rates/statistics of 2021 have increased in comparison to 2020 with the exception of the city of Duhok where it has relatively decreased. This is due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the closing of all directorates and offices that year. 





Results of Survey


18-65 Age of Participants
Male/Female Gender of Participants
Kurdistan Region of Iraq Residence
  Literate and Illiterate Education Level



?Q1. How important do you think the existence of a domestic violence court is 
Total number of participants: 380.
             very somewhat not at all
172 172 36
45.26% 45.26% 9.47%
ل 
ل 

Q2. Is a peacekeeping committee essential for family problems?
Total number of participants: 380.
no yes
105 275
%27.63 72.36%

Through this we have figured out that the majority of the participants find that it is essential to have a peacekeeping committee in courts. This is all owed to the efforts that this committee has made in the past while. 

Q3. What kind of violence is most present in families?
Total number of participants: 497

Mental Physical Sexual Financial
229 139 29 100
46.07% 27.96% 5.83% 20.12

Mental Physical Sexual Financial
229 139 29 100
46.07% 27.96% 5.83% 20.12


This has shown that the majority of the violence/abuse that occurs among families is mental such as humiliation and mental torture that has negative impacts on the families’ individuals. 





Q4. to what extent are relevant parties helpful in solving domestic issues?
Total number of participants: 379

              Not at all Somewhat Very
125 138 116
32.98% 36.41% 30.60

Not at all Somewhat Very
125 138 116
32.98% 36.41% 30.60

Showcased through these statistics، it can be said that the majority of participants are satisfied with the efforts of the related governmental parties. This relates back to a few reasons of which include the fact that it takes very long because there aren’t any specified courts.



Q5. Are investigations in courts confidential and in private?
Total number of participants: 380
                                    Yes No
279 101
73.42% 26.57%




We have found through this data that the majority agree that investigations are confidential and in private which is appreciated and deserves gratitude for the employee، investigators، and courts. However، at the same time the rate of non-confidential investigations are also not low. The duty of the legal system is to preserve confidentiality so it is necessary that specified courts are opened in all provinces so that confidentiality is preserved to a greater extent. 

Q6. Who commits the most abuse/violence in a family?
Total number of participants: 441

Husband Wife Brother Father Mother Sister           4th degree relatives
238 42 68 30 20 5 38
53.96% 9.52% 15.41% 6.80% 4.53% 1.13% 8.61%
 
 This shows that the majority of violence is committed by the men in a family however even though the majority of participants in this section were female، they have admitted that females also commit part of the violence and abuse. 
Q7. Are shelters essential for domestic violence survivors/cases?
Total number of participants: 375

Yes No
193 182 
51.46% 48.53%
We have found that the majority agree that shelters are important so that women who are threatened are protected. At the same time، this showcases the extent of awareness amongst the communities that the shelters are a safe zone for the protection of women and the resolution of domestic issues. 

Q7. What should be done for the minimization of violence amongst families?
Total number of participants: 424
158
37.26%
76
17.92%
102
24.05%
88
20.75%


Raising legal and social awareness has a major impact on minimizing and preventing domestic violence. This is besides the amount of participants that believe religious figures have an impactful role in diminishing domestic violence because we live in a Muslim society. 
Q8. What do you do when facing domestic violence?
Total number of participants: 415


I will contact the 199 hotline  67
16.14%
I will remain silent 80
19.27%
I will contact the organizations 84
20.24%
I will file a lawsuit 184
44.33%


This survey showed that most participants would resort to filing a lawsuit which means that awareness levels amongst the participants are high and this shows the understanding among participants towards the directorates and offices of violence courts which is pleasing. 





Recommendations

1- Amendment of the already existing Act of Combating Domestic Violence in Kurdistan Region as opposed to new legislation.
2-  Establishment of a criminal court that exclusively deals with cases of women’s honor killings and that has time allocated daily and weekly for such cases. Currently، the Criminal Court oversees many different cases which makes it difficult for them to devote sufficient time for women’s honor killings. The majority of these cases have to wait over a month in between sittings، and their cases take years to resolve.
3- Creation of a specified court in the Court of Investigations and Specialized Family Misdemeanor Court as well as assigning a specialized judge in all of the provinces.
4- Creating a Specialized Family Misdemeanor Court in all of the governorates.
5- It is necessary that The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs works on opening shelters in all of the provinces even if they are temporary shelters (24 hour shelters).
6- Improving the quality of service in the existing shelters in the governorates. 
7- Opening a shelter specific to family problem cases and not inter-mixing them with other cases.
8- Giving more importance to the psychological health of domestic violence victims when complaints are processed. It is crucial that the Ministry of Health and The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs collaborate to open a Mental Health Hospital for domestic violence victims.
9- Continuing the spread of awareness on this legal act in all of the different regions of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq especially for employees of related parties which work within this sector.
10- Opening more offices in all of the governorates in order to facilitate the proceedings of the cases and assisting victims. This is because the number of filed complaints have increased compared to previous years.
11- Providing all required necessities for the DCVAW offices in the governorates and province which include police officers and security personnel so that they can protect the victims who are under threat.  
12- The courts need to make definitive and fair decisions on the cases so that obstacles are not formed in the affairs of the offices. The courts need to be aware which cases are their responsibility and under their authority  to receive and any confusion in this matter is to be non-existent.
13- Activating and opening a directorate that specializes in family problems in the Governorate of Halabja.

 





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