ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Being at the receiving end of harassment and abuse in past elections in the Kurdistan Region has led many women in the Kurdish semi-autonomous region to participate in the political process with caution and some fear.
In Iraqi elections and those in the Kurdistan Region, female candidates are victims of verbal abuse and harassment during the electoral campaigns. At times, this is indirectly carried out by opposing parties to damage the reputation of the candidate and affect their chances of winning.
“Women cannot have a political career [in the Kurdistan Region] without the support of their family and community,” Chiya Ismael, a member of the Coalition for Democracy and Justice’s (CDJ) executive council, told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
She mentioned that women could be as successful as men in their careers, including in political institutions, but require more support to overcome the obstacles they face.
“Why is it that in developed countries, women become successful presidents and prime ministers, but such a right is not given to women in our country?” Ismael lamented, expressing concerns about the challenges women face in their everyday life in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
During electoral campaigns, female candidates are primarily targeted to damage their background and reputation to sway people’s perceptions despite repeated warnings by the electoral commission against such actions.
For the Sep. 30 parliamentary election in the Kurdistan Region, the electoral commission, as previously done, has ruled that parties must have women represent no less than 30 percent of their candidates, a step designed to encourage women to participate in the political process.
A member of the Communist Party of Kurdistan, Shler Abdulmajeed, believes that most parties face challenges in meeting that quota, as previous candidates faced harassment and verbal abuse in past elections.
“The withdrawal of women from the political process sends a dangerous message,” Abdulmajeed told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
“The attacks on female candidates do have not only psychological implications on the candidate and her family but also affects future female candidates.”
She mentioned that many women planned to run in the Sep. 30 election, but widespread harassment in previous elections have led most of them to reconsider their choice.
Political analysts believe that harassment of female candidates is also meant to affect the reputation of the party as well.
The election race in the Kurdistan Region is scheduled to begin on September 5 and end on the 28th of the same month.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Diyar Jamal)