HRW urges Iraqi parliament to set domestic violence penalties

Iraqi women

Baghdad ( The Iraqi parliament has been advised to set penalties for husbands who subject family members to violence as the chamber reviews a draft law against the crime initially proposed in 2015.

Human Rights Watch, submitting a memorandum to the parliament’s speaker, said Sunday the parliament, working on the proposed bill, should prioritize justice over reconciliation as far as violence against wives in concerned.

“A strong domestic violence law could help save Iraqi women’s lives,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Iraqi parliament should make sure the final bill includes essential provisions to prevent domestic violence, protect survivors, and prosecute the abusers.”

An Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) in 2006 said one in five Iraqi women were subjected to physical domestic violence, HRW noted. “A 2012 Ministry of Planning study found that at least 36 percent of married women reported experiencing some form of psychological abuse from their husbands, 23 percent reported verbal abuse, 6 percent reported physical violence, and 9 percent reported sexual violence,” the organization added.

While highlighting points of strength in the bill under consideration, including restraining orders and penalties, HRW enumerated “several gaps and approaches in the bill that would undermine its effectiveness,” as it put it. On top of the bill’s weaknesses is the provision that drops prosecution of violators once a family reconciliation is reached.

“But women in Iraq are often under tremendous social and economic pressure to prioritize the family unit over their own protection from violence,” HRW commented.

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