Female Candidates Face Threats

April 27, 2018 at 12:36 am

Baghdad, 15 April 2018, campaign of Iraqi parliamentary election. Photo: AFP

Narin Rostam – Erbil

A sex footage of Intisar Muhammad Jasim, a Victory Coalition [Nasr] candidate for Iraqi parliamentary election, has recently dominated the social media, which forced her to to withdraw from the Iraqi election, the first female candidate to do so.

Intisar is a professor of administration and economics in the University of al-Mustansiriya in Baghdad. She considered the video “photoshopped” last Thursday, and later, through the IHEC and head of the bloc -Haidar al-Abbadi –  she withdrew from the elections.

She was the first female candidate to withdraw from elections, due to the footage’s publication through the social media. However, she was not the first female candidate to face defamation and degradation.

In the early days of the campaign, due to the increasing spread of some semi-naked and ordinary family footage on the social media, Heshu Rebwar, a Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] candidate in Sulaimaniyah held a press conference and expressed concerns over the attempt to “assassinate the character of candidates” through the social media and pages with unidentified owners.

Heshu said, “They want to demonize me. They have taken my smartphone with all personal photos and videos. My personal account and page [on social media] are also taken,” she added, “However, I continue and such things cannot hold me. If they had asked, I’d give them the smartphone and pages myself, because they only include matters related to me and my husband.”

They want to demonize me. They have taken my smartphone with all personal photos and videos.

Tens of female candidates in Iraq face humiliation and character assassination, through publishing photos and footages on the social media.

Some female candidates are confronted with discouraging boos in the market and public places while campaigning, and their posters are removed.

Hevi Hayaf, 30, member of Erbil Governorate Council and Gorran candidate for Iraqi parliament, was confronted with boos by a group of youths on 21 April when she went to Erbil’s central market.

Hevi, which published the footage on her personal account, claimed, “They have the authority behind them. The authority fears the revolution of women, because women’s revolution is the most influential.”

She added, “From the very first day of the campaign, they degraded my posters hung in the markets and streets of Erbil. My posters were torn off, some thrown on streets. However, bully does not affect me. I’ve taken a path and continue on it.”

However, spokesman of Erbil police Abulkhaliq Talaat said Hevi Hayaf “wants to increase votes and reach parliament in this way”.

Three days before the campaign in the Kurdistan region, the High Commissioner of Ladies Affairs in Ministers Council of Kurdistan Region warned in a statement against any degradation and defamation against the female candidates, and showed readiness of the council to defend any female who has been facing humiliation.

Member of the High Council Ladies Affairs, Kosar Karim, said, “Women have the right to take part in the government and authority. We have female candidates who filed complaints with us, because a number of [Facebook] pages have published degrading statements under her name and photo… We investigate such cases to know how that happened, because some candidates use such cases as an advertisement for the election.”

We have female candidates who have filed complaints

In the early days of campaigning, PUK bloc head in Sulaimaniyah province Jwan Ihsan and Heshu Rebwar, a KDP candidate in Sulaimaniyah were confronted with humiliating acts, after their participation in a Rudaw TV program.

The host of TV show (10 Questions) RanJ Sangawi, after asking multiple times concerning whether the guest is approving of the deeds of the minister of Human Rights in Iraq, Jwan Ihsan said, “I do not approve”. However, Sangawi said, “Sorry the question is a mistake as Iraq does not have a minister of Human Rights.”

Such ministry existed in Iraq until 2015, but later it was changed to an Independent Commission. Jwan Ihsan gave a clarification concerning the issue, but was confronted with humiliating remarks in the social media anyway. Similar remarks were made against Heshu Rebwar, when she said in the same TV show, “This is the 8th tenure of Iraqi parliament,” while it is the fourth.

Dr. Viyan Muhammad, KDP candidate in Sulaimaniyah, told Kirkuk Now, “Inappropriate comments are written on my page every day. Female candidates should not pay the price of attempting to increase their voter-base.”

She said, “Those female candidates who are chosen and reach Iraqi parliament, should work on the issue of assassinating the character of women. This is very difficult for us.”

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