Spike in gender-based violence across Iraq

Baghdad, 8 March 2020 – “women of the uprising” celebrating International Women Day at Tahrir Square – photo: Ahmad al-Masalaha

Yusra Ali - Nineveh

Iraqi news outlets are filled with news about domestic violence recently, which is an indication of a worrying escalation of violence in Iraqi society, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some unusual crimes, such as a mother throwing her two children over a bridge into the Tigris River in Baghdad, or a woman killing her husband and son with an axe, have contributed to raising the controversy.

"Violence is one of the phenomena that exist in all societies and at different levels, on both genders; male and female, and at all ages. But what we are witnessing recently, especially after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, our society has witnessed an increase in cases of domestic violence, which has led some to commit suicide," says Suzan Jamil, director of Balsam, and aid and development organization.

Numerous cases of women committing suicide have been registered in the past several days. The latest were today (25 October 2020), as two suicides were recorded, one in Baghdad and the other in Basra province.

The reasons for the suicide of the first case is not known, but a security source attributed the reason for the second to mental illness.

Suzan Jami, head of Balsam organization for aid and development

Zozan Muhammad, a project manager at the "Baghdad Women" association, told KirkukNow that for her work, she is in constant contact with women who are subjected to violence, especially domestic violence, which is "beginning to increase gradually."

She says that most of the cases she received, especially after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, were women suffering from domestic violence.

She says that some cases need quick response, mentioning as example of a woman being subjected to beatings and burning by her husband, and that they have a team at their association that helps victims take legal measures in such cases.

Near-daily cases

On 20 October 2020, the police found the body of the wife of an Iraqi singer with traces of bullet wounds on it inside her home in Baghdad’s al-Mansour neighbourhood.

Although the case was registered as a suicide, during the investigations the security forces issued an arrest warrant for her husband. Whether the husband was arrested or not, was not made public. The arrest warrant may indicate foul play and involvement of the husband.

On the same day, security forces recovered the body of a twenty-year-old girl from the Tigris River, without knowing the reasons behind her death.

On 19 October 2020, a woman in Maysan province killed her husband and son with an axe and fled afterwards.

Photo: Melanie Wasser

And on the same day, while fiddling with a weapon at home in Fariha district in Karbala province, a 9-year-old child killed his father with three bullets. And a woman left her two children in one of the city’s streets. The authorities are still searching for the parents of the two children.

A five-day-old baby was found on the side of the road in the countryside of the al-Shamiya district, Diwaniyah province.

In Erbil, a man was arrested after killing his wife at a hotel. He had been chasing her for months.

The authorities released a video of the man confession to the murder.

A woman threw her two children from the Imams Bridge into the Tigris River in the al-Kadhimiya neighbourhood of Baghdad. She was arrested on 17 October 2020.

She claimed that she did this due to a dispute with her ex-husband. She is charged with murder.

The moment a woman throws her children in the Tigris River


Worrying numbers: Baghdad has the highest

Brigadier General Ali Muhammad Salem, director of Family and Child Protection Directorate at the Ministry of Interior, revealed that more than 9,000 cases of domestic violence were recorded, most of them in the capital Baghdad, from the start of the year until the end of August.

Salem said during his interview with al-Dijla TV that the Family and Child Protection Directorate at the Ministry of Interior follows up and deals with all cases of domestic violence, including physical, verbal, sexual and other violence.

"We have recorded cases of physical or economic abuse against men by their wives," he added.

He further said that "the capital, Baghdad, is the first in terms of the number of recorded domestic violence cases," noting that the increase in suicides is caused by psychological breakdown due to family problems and violence in addition to financial problems and the lockdown due to the pandemic.

In a survey provided to KirkukNow by the Baghdad Women Association for the first half of 2020, a total of 1075 women and girls who were subjected to violence were interviewed. And during the past two months, 250 other female victims of violence were interviewed.

  • FB
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YT