From the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), Nov. 3:
To the Kurdish Parliament and the Kurdistan Regional Government:
We demand the repeal of polygamous marriages and all other discriminatory laws against women in Kurdistan.
On October 27, 2008, legislation allowing polygamous marriages was passed in a parliamentary session in Erbil, the capital city of Kurdistan. This legislation is part of a constitutional draft proposing to replace the old family status law, in use since 1958. It was changed partially, under Saddam Hussein, to subjugate women’s rights further.
After the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003, a new constitution was written and passed in Iraq. This constitution was solely based on Islamic Sharia Law and openly stated its support for gender apartheid against women. We clearly see that the proposed constitution for the Kurdish region is no better than the Iraqi one. In fact, it is just a smaller version.
The current family status law was reactionary enough—being purely based on discrimination against women and their treatment in society as second class citizens—but now the Kurdish Regional Government wants to change it further, and not for the better.
Women in Kurdistan have been subjected to all kinds of violence and discrimination throughout their history. Under Saddam’s regime, they endured all kinds of hardship, torture and abuse. They have fared no better under the current Kurdish rule. “Honour killings”, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, bullying women to commit suicide and the denial of civil and individual rights have been the main characteristics for almost the past two decades.
The approval of this current legislation will assist in the oppression of women and lead to a huge increase in violence against women. This is a historical mistake. We hold the Kurdish parliament and its government responsible for the violations of women’s rights in this region, due to these discriminatory laws.
Therefore, we call upon every concerned organisation and individual to support us in this campaign to repeal this law. We also call for unconditional equal rights, freedom and equality for women in Kurdistan to be enshrined in law.
Yanar Mohammed President of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq
Houzan Mahmoud representative abroad of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-UK
Maria Hagberg, President of Network against honour crimes -Sweden
Rega Svensson. Head of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Sweden
Jennifer Kemp Women’s rights activist based in USA
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