In Iraq, women and girls from different backgrounds remain at risk of violence, in their homes, at school and in public spaces.
According to a recent joint survey by the Government of Iraq and UNICEF, 37 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 in Iraq think that violence towards women is acceptable, while a new UNFPA study shows that 63 per cent of Gender Based Violence incidents in the country are perpetrated by a family member.
As the 16 days of activism for the Elimination of Violence against Women kick off, UNICEF and UNFPA reaffirm their commitment to end all forms of violence against women.
“Violence towards women and girls is a violation of human rights and has a devastating impact on their health, well-being, and their futures. It can never be justified,” said Peter Hawkins (pictured), UNICEF Representative in Iraq.
“Women and girls make up half of the population in Iraq and they have a right to live free from fear and violence and be free to fulfill their fullest potential,” he added.
Dr. Oluremi Sognuro, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, said: “Ending violence against women and girls is not a choice, it is rather a long-term commitment and should become part and parcel of Iraqi society through joint efforts from all of us. We should do everything possible to support women and girls to have a life full of dignity and prosperity.”
In areas of displacement and return, threats and risks of violence against women and girls are higher particularly sexual violence and exploitation, harassment and child marriage. In Iraq, girls as young as 12 years old are being married off.
UNFPA and UNICEF with partners are providing specialized services, including psychosocial support, for of sexual violence in Iraq and working to prevent child marriages. UNFPA has also supported the launch of a specialized emergency helpline for survivors of violence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Together, UNFPA and UNICEF call on the government of Iraq to provide age-appropriate services to GBV survivors, for the trainings of judicial and security personnel to assist women and child survivors in a compassionate and sensitive manner that prioritizes the rights and needs of survivors.
UNFPA and UNICEF call on the Government of Iraq and/or policy and decision makers, for a stronger enforcement of legislations against early marriage to better protect children.