Opening of Kirkuk shelter for abused women due next month, local official

A photo depicting an abused woman by Stefano Pollio.

By KirkukNow in Kirkuk

It is scheduled to open a shelter for battered women in Kirkuk with the aim of protecting women who are unable to return to their families due to various issues after years of calls from organizations defending women's rights.

All the requirements for opening the shelter are ready, and the shelter will officially open in November 2022, according to Intisar Karim, head of the Women's Empowerment Department in Kirkuk.

"All logistical requirements have been provided for the shelter, and the police have expressed their readiness to provide guards starting next month. We are now in the final stages of appointing the necessary cadres, all of whom are women," Karim told KirkukNow.

The shelter was scheduled to open early this year but the process was postponed due to many problems and obstacles, including the incomplete restoration of the building and some other requirements.

"The building is now complete and has all the necessary necessities. It remains only to officially open the shelter."

The official of the Women Empowerment Department in the Kirkuk Local Administration explained that the director of the shelter was chosen, and that the court, the Health Department, the Police and the Provincial Administration support the shelter, the first time for Kirkuk to have a shelter for women.

The importance of opening a shelter for abused women means there will be no need to transfer Kirkuki women to the shelters in Baghdad and Sulaymaniyah in order to protect them, given that many of the abused women rejected being transferred to another province.

The shelter is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has undertaken to build two more shelters in Anbar province, both are currently are operating and sheltering abused women.

Video: Intisar Karim, responsible for the women's empowerment department in Kirkuk, talks about opening a shelter for women in Kirkuk.

Karim says that the cases that will be referred to the shelter are decided by the court, which will supervise the period during which these cases will stay in the shelter.

According to statistics obtained by (KirkukNow) from the Kirkuk police, 149 cases of domestic violence have been registered in Kirkuk during last January and February, 122 of which were committed against women, while last year, 500 cases of domestic violence have been officially registered, including cases of quarrels between husbands and marital infidelity.

"We also spoke with the Directorate of Tribal Affairs and Religious Endowments, and they expressed their support for opening the shelter, considering it an important step," according to Karim.

The opening of the women's shelter in Kirkuk coincides with efforts to issue a law to counter domestic violence, which includes solutions and measures to reduce domestic violence, including the opening of shelters in the governorates, but the law is still awaiting approval by the house of representatives.

Women and human rights activists are pleased that their efforts to open doors of hope for abused women in Kirkuk came fruitful amid emergence of violence due to social, economic conditions in addition to rise of indications of violence following Covid-19 pandemic.

Women's rights activists call for launching a media campaign to coincide with the opening of the shelter, so that battered women would be aware of the existence of such a place that provides protection for them.

Some organizations defending women's rights indicate that there are dozens of cases of violence and abused women, but due to the lack of a shelter for them, some preferred to stay silent while others were forced to join prostitution networks.

The oil rich-city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmens. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.

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