A global challenge
Violence against women is a global issue. Women worldwide increasingly become victims of physical and psychological violence in domestic and public settings. The repercussions for a victim are unbearable and go beyond the personal. Violence against women has a direct and devastating impact on society and constitutes an impediment to progress, development, democracy and even security.
Kurdistan, a success story
For the Kurdistan Region of Iraq the issue is inseparable from the democratization, modernization and nation-building process. Experts agree that much has been achieved here. The case of the Kurdistan Region is considered as the only hopeful case of recent nation-building and post-conflict reconstruction projects in the entire Middle East.
Violence against women on the rise
However, through establishing new and effective structures and institutional frameworks, too often, social evils come to light. Due to their magnitude, these issues cannot and should not be ignored. The advanced media transparency in the Kurdistan Region ensures a wide coverage of incidents and promotes societal attention and the need for comprehensive responses. To tackle issues such as violence against women thus becomes mandatory and part of any successful nation-building process. This is a task, which has been given special attention by the Kurdistan Regional Government and local NGOs, with a proud record of success. However, the problem is acute and on-going. Data shows that violence against women is a widespread phenomenon and on the rise. Despite the good work done so far, much more needs to be achieved.
Joint effort for preventing violence against women
The Middle East Research Institute (MERI) turns therefore to this difficult issue in a series of roundtable meetings between decision makers, experts and stakeholders. These meetings are part of the newly initiated project on the Prevention of Violence Against Women at MERI’s Democracy and Governance Programme (D&G). This project takes place in close cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through the General Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women. Other project partners include: government departments and officials, parliamentarians, members of the judiciary, prominent women’s organisations and other members of the civil society. The aim is to facilitate a fruitful debate about the right path to be taken and policies to be adopted in order to radically reduce and eliminate violence against women as a widespread social defect.
Experts meet to discuss high impact strategies
For this roundtable meeting, local and international experts convene in Erbil to report on the political, legal and societal aspects of the issue. Based on the assumption that “violence against women is not inevitable”, the meetings will focus on how prevention is possible, and discuss the implementation of effective mechanisms and courses of action. Aspects covered will include:
- Women’s rights in Kurdistan Region: achievements and objectives
- Assessing the effectiveness of existing laws and legislation and possible amendments
- Joining forces: how to foster national and international cooperation
- Promoting national ownership through public awareness strategies
- Role of the judiciary in reducing violence against women
- Organising effective policing
- Data gathering approaches and an efficient surveillance system
- Institutional design and capacity building
The Middle East Research Institute (MERI) is a newly established independent, not-for-profit organisation, focused on policy issues relating to the people, land and system of governance in the Middle East in general, and in Kurdistan and Iraq in particular.
As a part of newly initiated project on the Prevention of Violence Against Women at MERI’s Democracy and Governance Programme (D&G), a series of roundtable meetings for decision makers, experts and stakeholders are held at MERI to debate the issue and provide policy recommendations.