Emma Organization’s Demonstration Activity Report
Erbil, Kurdistan Region
December 10th 2022
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that takes place between November 25 (the International Day against Violence against Women and Girls) and December 10 (International Human Rights Day) in order Gender-basically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights. The 16 Days Campaign has been used by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination and f all forms of violence against women and girls. In the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the women’s organization and its members mark the 16 Days Campaign annually as a unique moment to advocate for a country (and a world) without violence against women and girls.
Emma organization is a feminist organization that provides rehabilitation, capacity building, and program services to vulnerable communities in Kurdistan. Since 2013 Emma is working for gender equality and rebuilding the lives of women and young girls who are affected by SGBV, focusing on domestic violence and conflict-related sexual violence. Advocating for women’s rights was one the biggest pillars of Emma’s work since its establishment. The organization has always been active during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, therefore, in its annual efforts of this global campaign, Emma held a demonstration to call for stopping women’s honor killing and violence against women. The demonstration was located at Shar Park which is considered to be Erbil’s city center that will attract more civilians as its one of the most crowded spaces in Kurdistan’s capital.
The Audience’s Perception and Welcoming
The demonstration contained different activities and aspects that made the public in awe. Many journalists and the press were present to do media coverage of the event. Most of the people standing around the demonstration stage were men. They had different views and opinions on the topic of the call for action. Some argued that “we cannot live like European countries” and others were concerned that “the women’s situation cannot be changed while murderers are walking free without punishment”.
A man said “In my hometown, the government cannot control the tribal lifestyle and decisions as the tribes have more power than the government”
Moreover, many arguments were happening among the men who presented different opinions on the topic. Some men came and asked the women’s opinion on the situation of women and they tried to create a conversation with the women activists.
Pakhshan Zangana, a Kurdish politician and women right’s advocate listening to a middle-aged Kurdish man explaining why it is important to support women in labor and create more gender equality in Kurdistan
A woman wrote on the freeboard “I also love life, do not make violence towards me”
Reading the Women Alliance Speech
The demonstration happened after a few days after the Federal Court of Iraq issued a decision that Article 18 of Law No. 15 of 2008, the amended personal status in the Kurdistan Region is unconstitutional!!! This decision is a dangerous initiative on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s constitution, which adheres to the constitutional rights of the region, and on the other hand, is a clear violation of women’s rights that deprives her of the right to separate (divorce) when the man marry other women without her consent. While this law has been implemented in the Kurdistan Region for 14 years without any problems. Emma and Women alliance’ activists took the chance to call for action by the decision makers in Kurdistan against this decision to at least not consider it in the Kurdistan region.
On the anniversary of the international campaign to eliminate violence against women
Ending femicide and all forms of Gender-based violence
Women, life, Freedom
For all the people of Kurdistan,
Only in this year, 2022, 35 women were killed in the Kurdistan Region in less than 11 months!!!
Over the past 12 years, more than 2,700 women and young girls have been killed, more than 220 women are killed or forced to commit suicide or burn themselves every year! Some of them were brutally shot or burned in public places in front of the people and their families!!
Every year, thousands of women, or more than 6,000 women reporting police against violence and domestic violence. These statistics are very dangerous, concerning and the government, parliament and president of the Kurdistan Region must be convinced that this is a threat to the Kurdistan national security!!
Femicide and Violence against women have increased in such a way that concerning women, human rights and women organizations at the local, national and globally. Unfortunatly, we are wondering if the Kurdistan Regional is a safe place for women!!!!
At the same time, during the 16-day campaign to eliminate violence against women, the Federal Court of Iraq issued a decision that Article 18 of Law No. 15 of 2008, the amended personal status in the Kurdistan Region is unconstitutional!!! This decision is a dangerous initiative on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s constitution, which adhere to the constitutional rights of the region and on the other hand is a clear violation of women’s rights that deprives her of the right to separate (divorce) when the man marry other women without her consent. While this law has been implemented in the Kurdistan Region for 14 years without any problems.
What has made us more concerned is the lack of serious and indifference of the relevant authorities to this decision of the federal government to the phenomenon of violence, femicide and forgiveness of criminals who are protected through reconciliation and interference, increase in killing of women.
What worries us more is the lack of serious and indifference of the relevant actors to this brutal phenomenon and forgiveness of the perpetrators who are protected through reconciliation and interference of those who have power and weapons that protected and not brought to justice.
To prevent killing of women, the following should be done:
First: The government must take serious measures to protect women and young girls from cyber-harassment and exploitation in the workplace.
Second: The Kurdistan Parliament should seriously monitor the implementation of laws related to combating violence and discrimination against women.
Third: Amend the laws that directly or indirectly facilitate violence against women or murder, such as polygamy, child marriage, harassment, sexual assault, etc.
Fourth: The KRG must implement all plans and strategies to eliminate violence against women.
Fifth: Provide the necessary financial, human, and technical resources to all public and private institutions working to promote and combat violence against women.
Sixth: The rule of law must prevail and there must be no interference in the affairs of the courts and the end of the patriarchy mentality in the judicial system in Kurdistan.
Seventh: The media should play an effective role in raising awareness of the dangers of violence and killing women on the family and society, and cover the issues of violence and murder of women in a responsible manner.
Eighth: People should not be allowed to have weapons at home, and even those working in the security sector, police or Peshmerga should only carry weapons while working.
Ninth: Implementation of the laws, decisions and agreements that the Kurdistan Region as a region belonging to the federal government must comply with, such as 1325 resolution and CEDAW.
Tenth: Implement the law on Yazidi women survivors from ISIS and try to find and return the missing.
Eleventh: Protecting women’s activists and organizations from defamation and threats, because these are an important human capital and valuable official institutions of Kurdistan society.
Twelfth: We reiterate that 20/2/2022, when Shinyar Huner was burned, should be consider the day of eliminating the killing of women in Kurdistan (femicide). (Shnyar Hunar is a symbol for all women who have been burned or brutally killed in the past)
Thirteenth: The Parliament and the Presidency of Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should take the necessary measures against the decision of the Federal Court as soon as possible.
Fourteenth: – The Kurdistan Women’s Alliance calls on all relevant authorities in the Kurdistan Region, academic institutions, human rights organizations and international institutions to stand together against the decision of the Federal Court and declare that the Kurdistan Region will not be subjugated.
Finally: We reiterate that all parties must work together to eliminate femicide.
Together to end the femicide
Together to end violence against women
After reading the speech to the public, the women activists started shouting out Women, life, Freedom as the main slogan of the demonstration that made the audience and the press more passionate about their call to action.
Art and Music
The demonstration ended with an art exhibition that contained themes of the importance of women’s rights and lives and a band of music played a few pieces of music for the audience.