Baghdad, Iraq; 2 June 2020 - Every year in Iraq, too many women and children are abused and sexually assaulted by an intimate partner, a family member, a loved one.
Despite the efforts that have been made by the Government, the United Nations Agencies, and the civil society to eliminate gender-based violence, what we have seen in recent times is an escalation in number, the horrific nature of the crime and the depth of the societal wound. In all of these, the antidomestic violence bill has yet to be enacted.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, reports continue to emerge on the increase of gender-based violence across Iraq with no possibility of sheltering all the women who are being abused due to the absence of a law that protects survivors.
The UN-led coordination group with its partners from the NGOs and the civil society organisations conducted a rapid assessment on the spread of gender-based violence during COVID-19. Data received showed that 94% of the reported incidents during the current pandemic are related to domestic violence. Forty per cent of health service providers indicated an increase in the number of women survivors of violence seeking assistance. Furthermore, records have shown that there were more than 123 suicide attempts due to gender-based violence in two months only.
This must stop!
Gender-based violence, and domestic violence, in particular, are unforgivable crimes and are against every human right.
Domestic violence not only harms communities but weakens the foundation of the family and banishes trust among its members. Survivors of gender-based violence, especially the ones physically abused, tend to isolate themselves from people. This isolation often leads to depression, stress, fear, low self-esteem, emotional/psychological problems and even suicide. Not to forget that children who witness domestic violence are at increased risk of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and poor school performance, among other problems.
On the ground, UNFPA is increasing its sensitisation and awareness-raising interventions; psychosocial support; remote case management, alternative dispute resolution efforts; and community participation to increase awareness and reduce violence.
Despite all the detrimental effects on society and all the actions taken to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, the law has not been enacted yet by the Parliament allowing perpetrators of crimes and abusers to roam free, hurting one person after another.
Enact the law, now; save lives, today.
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