New study claims rise in male victims of domestic violence in Iraq

The Iraqi capital of Baghdad. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
The Iraqi capital of Baghdad. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In a nation that has seen thousands of acts of domestic violence against women and girls in recent years, one Iraqi research organization has deemed it most important to sound the alarm on fewer than 40 males reportedly subjected to violence at the hands of women.

According to statistics published by the Al-Rasheed Center for Studies, since the beginning of 2021, Iraq has witnessed roughly 35 cases of violence committed by wives against their husbands and the death of six men in related incidents, as well as references to cases where men were "burned, beheaded, or stabbed."

The statistic showed that most of "these cases took place in city centers," read the report, although "there are cases that occur in remote areas, villages and rural areas which usually end with clan and tribal reconciliation."

The center also gave the example of a recent video clip now being circulated on social media that showed an "attack led by a group of women throwing bricks and stones at a house in Baghdad," calling it a "dangerous indication of breaking the law."

In the video, a group of women can be seen on security footage attacking a house allegedly belonging to the husband of one of the women who had married a second wife.

No violent acts against any individuals, male or female, can be seen.

The center explained that neglecting such "violence" would "lead to the birth of a generation that believes in violence and is not subject to the law, customs and authentic Iraqi morals."

It added that the actions against males it has documented are "extremely dangerous."

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), however, has consistently called on the Iraqi parliament to expedite the passage of legislation to combat surging domestic violence against women and girls across the country, made worse by coronavirus lockdowns.

A statement said that UN officials in Baghdad “express their concern at the rising number in domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The report then outlined recent cases of recent gender-based violence that inspired public outrage, including the burning of one female allegedly carried out by her husband and the sexual assault of a disabled woman in disputed Kirkuk province reportedly perpetrated by a militiaman while another male, possibly a policeman, filmed the act.

Related Article: Kurdish leader calls for investigation into sexual assault of disabled woman in Kirkuk

“Such crimes raise the alarm for the urgency to endorse the Anti-Domestic Violence Law in Iraq,” which, UNAMI said, “will help to ensure that perpetrators of gender-based violence in Iraq, such as those who carried out the heinous incidents seen in recent past, are held accountable.”

The lockdown measures taken by governments worldwide have raised alarms among rights groups about an apparent dramatic spike in rates of domestic violence in multiple nations. In Iraq, where there is limited accountability for crimes committed as a result of familial disputes, women are especially vulnerable as spouses are cooped up with a myriad of issues plaguing public life in the country, most notably, low living standards and security.

The Kurdistan Region, which makes its own legislation in addition to national laws, already has an anti-domestic violence law. Still, despite social awareness campaigns by international and local organizations and the regional government, human rights organizations say they are often poorly-implemented and violence against women persists at alarming rates.

“The UN in Iraq calls upon authorities to ensure that the judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers, invest more in hotline and online services, support the role of civil society organisations, keep shelter doors open for women fleeing abuse and punish perpetrators of any gender-based violence,” the statement concluded.

“Violence against women and girls is a crime and should not go unpunished. The women and girls of Iraq deserve better.”