2 cases of suicide a week in Kirkuk

Kirkuk, 2015- Women gathering to protest domestic violence against women. Karwan Salihi

By Karwan Salihi in Kirkuk

Mayada Ali recalls her sister Marwa, 27, has got married following a love story yet her life turned into a nightmare after marriage. Her sister sets fire to her body and following two days of hospitalization, she dies due to the serious burns.

“She was in continuous fight with her husband. He was beating her. I remember once he has broken her left arm so she could not endure such a life,” Mayada sobbed.

Marwa has left home over ten times but in vain and her love story ended up with suicide.

He was beating her. I remember once he has broken her left arm so she could not endure such a life

“Husband of my sister has become a drug addict. He lost his house, car and all his fortune. Now he is fugitive and has not been arrested yet.”

Tens of cases alike Marwa pass without any radical solution by the police whom rejected to comment on the issue.

According to the data of the Iraqi high commission for human rights IHCHR, Kirkuk office, 50 cases of suicide has been registered in the first half of 2021, meaning 2 cases a week in addition to 11 cases of other form of violence on weekly bases, an escalation compared to previous figures.

There is no shelter in Kirkuk for women facing violence especially domestic in order to keep them safe till their cases are sorted out. There are no women shelters in most parts of the country, except for its capital Baghdad and the northern Kurdish region.

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Kirkuk, 2015- A woman asking for justice and stopping violence against women. Karwan Salihi

Relevant authorities are concerned about alarming raise in the cases of suicide in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Sajjad Jouma, head of Kirkuk office for IHCHR, said out of the 50 cases of suicide, 42 are female and only 8 are male. Most of them are older than 25 years, and the main methods are hanging and shooting by guns.

“These figures are alarming and should be seriously taken into consideration. We have informed Kirkuk administration and relevant authorities to find proper solution for social issue, the main factor behind suicide.”

These figures are alarming and should be seriously taken into consideration.

The cases of suicide have almost double in Kirkuk since in 2020, Kirkuk has witnessed 65 cases of suicide, 50 of them were women.

“No one listens to the needs of women in this city. Voice of men is heard at home, in office and all over the community and only men can choose their partners and have love relationships while women is shame and big problem in the family,” said Alia Ilewi, an advocate of women rights.

Ilewi is hopeless of awareness seminars, protests and gatherings.

“We are sure that 100 more protests, seminars and protests will be useless because we have asked to have a social department in police stations to address women issues and a safe shelter but in vain,” she added.

Other forms of violence are also in the rise.

Kirkuk office of IHCHR has registered 260 cases of violence in the first term of this year while 200 cases were reported from February to September 2020.

“Absence of shelter is one of the reasons behind escalation suicide and violence cases because no where can spare their lives when they are under threat,” Ilewi believes.

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Kirkuk, 2021- In Kirkuk there is no shelter for women despite the raise in suicide and violence cases. Karwan Salihi

Beside the cultural events like workshops and seminars by IHCHR, they address clergies in mosques to enlighten the public to show respect for women and never resort to violence against them.

Sheikh Ra’ad Mohammed, a clergy in Kikuk, said he is sorry for the raise in figures of suicide and violence against women.

“We have to talk about these issues after every Friday prayer speech via mosque platforms so that people to be more aware of their wives and kids.”

Sheikh Mohammed thinks social media is a source of concern and main cause of domestic issues.

Kirkuk was ranked the first in Iraq by 106 cases of suicide in 2019, 89 women and 17 men.

The Iraqi constitution prohibits domestic violence yet particular laws dealing with the issue to be passed by the Iraqi Council of Representatives. However, the Kurdistan Region has already endorsed the law of combating domestic violence.

While Iraq lacks an anti-domestic violence law, section first of article 41 of the Iraqi Penal Code, allows “the punishment of a wife by her husband,” considering it “to be in exercise of a legal right.”

The section has been used as a justification for the violence against women, while the Iraqi supreme court in 2019 refused that such a section enables domestic violence.

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