The Situation of Women in Iraq
During the time of the Ba'ath regime, women in northern Iraq have become victims of gender-specific human rights abuses, especially when they were politically active, or in their capacity as wives, mothers or sisters of enemies of the former regime. Sexual violence against women was a multi-layered method of warfare specifically designed to destroy family structures, to humiliate political dissidents, and to disrupt the cultural cohesion of ethnic groups.
In the course of the so-called Anfal Campaign, hundreds of thousands of women lost their relatives due to executions, military operations and during their attempts to escape genocide. Through the death of their male relatives, women were frequently driven into isolation and loneliness; at the same time, they had to endure enormous economic hardships while struggling to feed the remaining family members.
Furthermore, young women in northern Iraq continue to face numerous forms of domestic oppression, including domestic violence and so-called honor killings, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, as well as limited access to educational opportunities.
Our Services for Women and Girls
Our departments for women, entirely staffed by female therapists, address the severe and long-lasting consequences of gender-specific violence. These departments aim to
- protect women and their children from domestic violence
- raise women's awareness of their fundamental rights and the rights of their children
- increase women’s access to systems of welfare, legal protection, education, labor and health
- provide a secure setting where traumatized women can engage in group dialogue
- empower traumatized women to become agents of change in a post-repressive society
- strengthen non-violent conflict resolution within families and across generations.
Each year, the Jiyan Foundation helps around 1000 female victims of violence. Women and girls receive gender-specific medical and psychosocial assistance, they join regular self-help and discussion groups and take part in educational seminars. They are referred to evening schools and vocational training, women's shelters, or medical specialists. Family therapy and mediation sessions help to develop non-violent communication strategies, reconcile couples and stabilize traumatized families.
Supporting women who have become victims of violence has important secondary effects on family members. When women become aware of their fundamental rights, they can protect themselves and their children from domestic violence frequently produced by collective trauma. Moreover, they will share positive experiences of peaceful conflict resolution with their male relatives and thereby promote democratic attitudes.