British Ambassador opens workshop to combat sexual violence
As part of a global initiative to prevent violence against women, the British Ambassador to Iraq, Simon Collis, yesterday opened a workshop organised in cooperation with the British Embassy and the Ministry of Interior.
A British expert in women’s rights, Harriet Ware-Austin, chaired the workshop which was attended by senior officials and representatives from the police. Its purpose was to identify the needs of Iraqi authorities to enable them to better protect women from violence.
Speaking at the event, Simon Collis said, ‘Last year, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki rightly said that Iraq’s laws were not currently sufficient to prevent violence against women. He underlined the need for more education and reform to protect the rights of women. There has been some progress but there is a lot of work to be done. Women around Iraq are waiting to see how these words will translate into action.’
Harriet Ware-Austin also commented that ‘new legislation to combat human trafficking and the draft domestic violence law, when adopted, will go some way to addressing the issue on paper. But proper implementation of these laws is needed to make a real difference. That’s why today’s workshop is crucial because it will help to identify what the police need to be able to protect women from violence.’
The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, launched a global initiative in May to prevent sexual violence in conflict. Violence against women was defined in 1993 by the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women as “..any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”. Iraq is a signatory to this declaration.
The British Embassy in Baghdad and the British Consulate General in Erbil are this week launching a series of events and activities to draw attention to this issue. These include a conference in Erbil with local non-governmental organisations and government officials as well as workshops in Erbil and Baghdad with police, government officials and members of the judiciary to help them prevent and prosecute acts of violence and to protect women from violence.
(Source: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office)