“Sometimes under family or psychological pressure, plaintiffs pardon the defendant several times,” said Arif, whose organization is seeking to hammer out a joint draft with MERI and the Interior Ministry so as to increase the chances of a successful amendment in parliament. “But by violating the law more than once, it should be treated as a violation of the public’s right.”
To some, however, the major problem in Iraqi Kurdistan is not the lack of laws. In fact, some of the laws such as the anti-domestic violence and journalism laws are known to be quite progressive by regional standards.
“What really matters is implementation. The law should not only be ink on paper,” said Vian Abbas Omar, a member of the Kurdistan parliament who has been involved for years in improving women conditions. “We should not only be focused on issuing new laws. ... Civil society and government agencies should [also] play their role.”
Activists and officials that Al-Monitor spoke with pointed to the complex web of social and tribal relations, and in some cases the failure of certain judges to uphold the law and lack of motivation or power by some law enforcement agents to carry out their tasks as factors compounding the proper implementation of the laws meant to protect women.
Kurda Omar, the director of a government agency in charge of following up on violations against women, believes that amending the existing anti-domestic violence law has become a necessity.
“There is no measure in the current law that defends the public right in the sense that if a woman is in danger, we cannot take action until she reaches out to us,” Omar said. “And this is not possible in many cases. We need to have the right to act on behalf of the public and follow up on violations we learn of.”
She also believes some judges have been remiss in adhering to the law.
“Some judges act based on their own mood,” she said.