Preventing Violence Against Women (PVAW) by Promoting Good Governance


Project Description

Full Title: Preventing Violence Against Women (PVAW) by Promoting Good Governance in Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Coordinating Partner: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
Lead Fellow: Armin Seif, Democracy and Governance program (D&G)
Principle Partner: Ministry of the Interior, Kurdistan Regional Government; General Directorate of combating Violence against Women
Project in Brief: The project seeks to examine the current system in place for prevention of violence against women with the aim to propose changes in the legislation and introduce a reform program for good governance.
Term: 2014 – 2015
Most Recent: Publications and Events



Women worldwide increasingly become victims of physical and psychological violence. 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, democracy and even security.

For the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the issue is inseparable from democratization and the nation-building process. Combating violence against women in Kurdistan Region of Iraq has witnessed significant achievements in the past decade. Through rigorous effort, local women’s rights groups and activists, combined with media and international support, were able to increase public awareness to the extent that the Kurdistan Regional Government, now for some years, is giving special attention to the issue with a clear demonstration of political commitment. In addition to passing the new Law to Combat Domestic Violence, unparalleled in the Middle East, a General Directorate was formed to receive and investigate violent acts against women and provide services to survivors.

Yet these institutions created, only shed more light on the magnitude of the issue at hand. Data indicates that in the past years violence against women has dramatically increased and still is on the rise. According to official statistics, more than 5000 cases of violence against women were reported in 2013. In far more than 10% of the reported cases victims have lost their life. Over 300 cases dealt with women burned to death (Source: Ministry of the Interior MOI). This is only the tip of the iceberg. Social stigmatisation of women affected by violence is common. Many cases remain unreported, as victims fear further punishment and marginalisation.

If ignored, the consequences of these violent acts will be far greater than the challenge today. New forms of violence have been added to existing forms. Women are helplessly exposed to sexual and domestic violence, sexual harassment, kidnapping and murder. Honour killings and burnings are considered by some as justified forms of punishment. Above all, institutions and facilities created to assist women continue to fail to provide adequate protection and necessary services.

The Project

In a joint effort, together with the Ministry of the Interior of the Kurdistan Region, civil society organisations and other official and non-governmental actors, the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) has initiated a project on the prevention of violence against women as part of MERI’s Democracy and Governance program (D&G).

With reference to the third United Nations Millennium Development Goal, all project partners share the belief that ‘violence against women is not inevitable’, and that with equal rights, protection and empowerment, women can be agents for a sustained socio-economic development and security in their communities. The ultimate goal of the project is therefore to propose and introduce an improved system of governance based on effective legislation, able to protect women’s rights, free of discrimination, and efficient in preventing violence against women.

The project commenced in June 2014 with the appraisal of the status-quo of the current system for the prevention of violence against women. In an initial phase, through expert and stakeholder meetings, gaps in the mechanisms in place have been detected and four urgent needs identified. The project is accordingly built on four strategic pillars and will remedy the deficiencies through the following sub-committees (SCs):

    1. SC on Laws and Legislation: The need for effective laws
    2. SC on Police and MOI: The need for efficient law enforcement
    3. SC on Judiciary: The need for a fairer justice system
    4. SC on Surveillance Data: The need for accurate data and statistics

In consecutive phases, the project will continue to closely examine different perspectives on advancing the current system of governance. In a series of roundtable meetings, decision makers, experts and stakeholders will convene to specify the limitations and barriers to the current policy, legislative and organisational frameworks for the protection of women and prevention of gender-based violence. The project will specifically seek to assess the effectiveness of existing laws and legislation and the need for possible amendments. To organise efficient policing and law enforcement, capacity building measures in form of institutional and individual development will be thoroughly inspected. Furthermore, the role of the judiciary in reducing violence against women will be re-evaluated. As lack of clear scientific evidence leads to under-reporting and inaction, systematic and reliable data gathering and efficient surveillance systems will be implemented.

Project Partners

Collaborating institutions
Ministry of the Interior, Kurdistan Regional Government 
General Directorate of Combating Violence against Women
Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
The Parliament of the Kurdistan Region
Ministry of Justice, Kurdistan Regional Government

Individual members of the sub-committees
Tanya Gilly-Khailany
Bahar Ali, Emma Organisation for Human Development
Kafia Sabir, General Directorate of Combating Violence against Women
Hawkar Jabar, General Directorate of Combating Violence against Women
Professor Dlawer Ala’aldeen, MERI 
Dr Dilan Rostam Roshani, MERI
Khogir Wirya, MERI
Mohammed Dizaye, MERI
Armin Seif, MERI 

Publications and Events

“Violence against women is not inevitable”

Further Information

Third Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 
Convention on preventing and combating violence against women
Prime Minister Barzani launches campaign to combat violence against women
Kurdistan Region Law to Combat Domestic Violence
UNiTE To End Violence Against Women
UN Gender Indicators 

For more information please contact Mr Armin Seif from our Democracy and Governance program: