Statement of the Iraqi Women Network: From Peace at Home to Peace in Iraq
As we approach the annual celebration of the international campaign of the 16-day on violence against women, starting from 25th of November to 10th December, which coincides with the victories of our valiant forces against ISIS gangs of darkness and backwardness, we, as Iraqi women face a new challenge to our human rights, and as citizens we must extract the roots of terrorism and extremism that fuel violence and gender-based discrimination, we must participate in the movement towards stability and security, and the building of a state of equal citizenship and social justice through reforming the political process towards the elimination of sectarian, factional quotas and corruption, And to consolidate the peaceful coexistence between the different sectors of our people by calling for dialogue and negotiations to resolve all problems and crises in accordance with the Constitution, and to address the tragic plights, that has been described by the international community as amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide, endured by our sisters and daughters committed by ISIS, along with displacement, destitution, misery, exploitation, widowhood and orphan hood.
Under these difficult circumstances, the Parliament votes on 31/10/2017 on proposed law to amend the Personal Status Code to be adopted within its schedule in the coming period, which contradicts many of the supreme principles of the Constitution: sovereignty of law, equality of Iraqis before the law without discrimination, separation of the authorities, and the independence of judiciary.
It constitutes immediate a setback and a crime against the rights of women and children by eliminating many of the achievements made by women in the amended Personal Status Code No. 188 of 1959, in particular the right to choose the partner, the age of marriage at 18 years, the prohibition of marriage outside the courts, also temporary marriage, elimination the judicial separation right and the threat to the mother’s right in custody of her children, no compensation to the wife for arbitrary divorce, her right of residence in the marital home after the divorce for three years, a widow has no right in inheriting lands from her husband, and other guarantees provided by the law in force, which had a positive impact on the stability of families and society during six decades.
The Personal Status Code in force has contributed to strengthening the authority of the judiciary, justice and law enforcement institutions, based on the Islamic religion and the principles of Islamic Shariaa and the best jurisprudence scholars without biased, adopting the most appropriate provisions in line with the spirit of the era. In contrast, the proposed law is based on sectarianism that fragments the Iraqi social fabric’s unity, which is based on intermarriage relations between the different sects and communities, and even the religions provided by the law in force, which we need in the stage of restoring stability, security and civil peace.
Raising this sectarian project at this time seems to be for electoral purposes in order to win votes, leaving the addressing of urgent issues such as the domestic violence, which afflicts the family and society as a result of continued violence, armed conflicts, arms proliferation and the growing influence of tribal customs that violates human rights.
The Anti-Domestic Violence Law is still suspended by Parliament since about three years, facing some obstacles and unrealistic arguments by some political blocs, reluctant to approve it, while the national policies and plans of the Iraqi government - the National Development Plan and the Strategy for the Advancement of Women, and the National Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325 and the National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women, include actions and measures to bridge the gap in gender equality in various fields, and calls for the need to provide equitable legislative environment for women, and in particular the importance of legislation the Anti-Domestic Violence Law. This raises astonishment and the question concerning the blatant contradiction between the performance of the executive and legislative branches in respect of Iraq's international commitments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of Child and the both International Covenants on Civil, Political, and Economical, Social and Cultural rights.
We at the Iraqi Women Network, representatives of dozens of NGOs and gatherings throughout Iraq, believe that the current difficult situation in our country requires the intensification of serious efforts to renounce terrorism and violence, arms should be in the hands of the government exclusively, to fight against sectarianism, racism, discrimination and exclusion, combating corruption, and building confidence and the consolidation of national unity and the achievement of justice and equality in accordance with the Constitution.
In line with the objectives of the 16-day campaign to combat violence against women, we raise the slogan "From Peace at Home to Peace in Iraq", addressing the decision-makers to drag immediately the bill to amend the Personal Status Code and accelerate the adoption of the Anti-Domestic Violence law, as well as the formation of the Independent National Commission for the Empowerment of Women, to achieve the active participation of women in building a free and democratic federal system based on equal citizenship and gender justice.
Baghdad on 14/11/2017