Baghdad, Iraq, 18 December 2017 - On Sunday 17th of December, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Iraq under the auspices of Dr. Salim Al-Juburi, Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament and in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, the local Directorate of NGOs, organized an advocacy ceremony to address gender-based violence at the Iraqi Parliament hall.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Council of Ministers, the Parliament, the United Nations Agencies, the American and Dutch embassies, the Civil Society, and members of the public.
Addressing the audience, Mr. Al-Jubouri emphasized on the price Iraqi women had to pay during the war against terrorism and the sacrifices they gave. “Iraqi women, especially Yazidi women, faced many injustices because of terrorism and paid a colossal price in that way. (…) It is our duty to find the proper environment that will do them and their sacrifices justice and protect their dignity.
Mr. Al-Jabouri also paid his respect to the critical role Yazidis’ supreme leader, Khurto Hajji Ismail, known as Baba Sheikh, played in facilitating the long-term recovery and reintegration of women survivors in their own community.
On his part, the UNFPA Deputy Representative, Mr. Nestor Owomuhangi, spoke about UNFPA’s role during the crises and the services the Fund provided to women affected by the violence. “Through the Women Centres, UNFPA has successfully reached out, in the past 2 years, to more than 286,000 women and girls with gender-based violence services. The Fund has also supported the Department of Health in Dohuk in establishing and operate a center which provides comprehensive medical, mental health and psychosocial care, and the same model of this centre has been replicated in Amriyet al-Fallujah in Anbar governorate.”
Mr. Owomuhangi reiterated UNFPA support for the post-Daesh period and called for the endorsement and implementation of the law to protect families from domestic violence. “Our pursuit of gender equality and justice continues even after the retake of all the Iraqi territory from Daesh. In the process of peace-building, stabilization, and reconstruction, having a legal framework to protect dignity and safety of women and girls is of great importance.”
The Prime minister’s office, the Parliament and UNFPA also honored Baba Sheikh for his critical role in supporting Yazidi survivors of sexual violence exerted by the Da’esh. Baba Sheikh’s declaration and fatwa in 2014 on welcoming Yazidi women who had been enslaved by Da’esh back to the community was a revolutionary step forward towards supporting gender-based violence survivors and challenging the victim shaming and blaming.
After receiving his award, Baba Sheikh thanked the Iraqi Parliament, UNFPA, and the Government of Kurdistan Region of Iraq for all the support they provided to Yazidi women, especially the survivors of Daesh’ reign of terror. He also insisted on the importance of ending all kinds of gender-based violence and enabling a law that protects women’s rights. The prominent figured praised the strength of the Yazidi women and called for action to rescue women and girls who are still missing.
At the end of the ceremony, Mr. Owomuhangi on behalf of the NGO Directorate, the General-Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Civil Society representatives presented to the Speaker of Parliament a statement in support of swift endorsement of the law to protect families from domestic violence.