Opening of Kirkuk shelter for abused women delayed

Kirkuk, 2015: a protest to combat violence against women. Karwan Al-Salihi

By KirkukNow

Three months have passed since the promises to establish a shelter for abused women in Kirkuk, but the opening of the shelter was delayed due to the incomplete restoration of the building, as well as the lack of other necessities, including staff for management of the shelter.

The Iraqi federal government has approved to inaugurate a shelter for women exposed to violence in December according to local officials, after unremitting and continuous efforts by activists and defenders of women's rights.

The importance of opening a shelter for abused women means there will be no need to transfer these women to the shelters in Baghdad and Sulaymaniyah in order to protect them, given that many of the abused women rejected being transferred to another province.

"The shelter has not been opened yet. Unfortunately, the renovation work of the building has not been completed, and it still needs electrical installations, appliances and furniture, and cadres have not yet been allocated to manage the shelter," said Intisar Karim, responsible for development and women’s department in the Kirkuk province Administration.

The battered women's shelter is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has undertaken to build two more shelters in Anbar province, both are currently are operating and sheltering battered women.

Restoration work will be completed at the end of this month or early next month

"According to our follow-up, the shelter restoration work will be completed at the end of this month or early next month, and it will be officially opened... We are upset about the delay in the process, but the shelter will open soon," Karim said.

According to statistics obtained by KirkukNow from Kirkuk police, 149 cases of domestic violence in Kirkuk were registered in last January and February, 122 of which were committed against women.

According to statistics obtained by KirkukNow from Kirkuk Police Command, last year nearly 500 cases of domestic violence have been officially registered.

"The shelter will receive women who are subjected to violence and threats of death by husbands or parents and relatives," Karim explained. "The cases will be dealt with according to the decisions of the judge and the applicable laws."

Women and human rights activists are pleased that their efforts to open doors of hope for abused women in Kirkuk came fruitful amid emergence of violence due to social, economic conditions in addition to rise of indications of violence following Covid-19 pandemic.

Women's rights activists call for launching a media campaign to coincide with the opening of the shelter, so that battered women would be aware of the existence of such a place that provides protection for them.

Some organizations defending women's rights indicate that there are dozens of cases of violence and abused women, but due to the lack of a shelter for them, some preferred to stay silent while others were forced to join prostitution networks.

The Anti-Domestic Violence Law endorsed by the Iraqi parliament addresses several ways to reduce domestic violence, including opening shelters in the provinces. However, this law has not yet been approved by the Iraqi parliament.

The oil rich-city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.

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