Activists and government agencies in Iraqi Kurdistan have drafted amendments over the past few months to the autonomous region’s existing law combating domestic violence, introducing measures aimed at better protection of women’s and children’s rights.
Kurdish parliamentarians will convene with the sponsors of the two drafts next week to possibly merge them into one and then introduce them on the floor of parliament, according to Kajal Hadi Faqe, a member of Iraqi Kurdistan parliament’s women affairs committee.
The major draft was prepared by the Middle East Research Institute (MERI), a think tank based in Kurdistan’s capital city, Erbil, in partnership with the Kurdish government’s Ministry of Interior.
It includes provisions that protect women from undergoing baby gender tests, and being divorced or forced to abort the fetus in case it is not a boy. In Kurdistan’s largely conservative society, some families still maintain a preference for male children.
The draft also criminalizes depriving a family member from owning property or wealth. In some quarters of society, women might not be allowed to receive their due share of inheritance or to retain the wealth they generate as a result of employment or business activities.
Activists hope that the parliament will start work on amending the current law within the next couple of months.
Despite the ratification of a “progressive” anti-domestic violence law in 2011, violence against women has increased. The law went into effect more than a year later.
According to data provided by the General Directorate for Combating Violence against Women of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), around 2,600 cases of violence against women were recorded in the first six months of 2013. In the same period in 2014, the violations jumped to over 3,500 cases, marking an increase of about 30%.