Stop “gender cleansing” in Iraq

From the Iraq Freedom Congress and the Opening for Peace, Equality and Nexus (OPEN), Japan, May 19:

Joint Statement to Stop ‘Gender Cleansing’ in Iraq under the name of ‘honor killing’ and other gender-based violence against women, and to Demand the Immediate Withdrawal of Occupation Forces

March 2008 was the fifth anniversary of the start of war on Iraq by the US military. During the five-year period, the death toll of Iraqis exceeded one million, and several million have been displaced as refugees in and out of Iraq. Still escalating are indiscriminate attacks by the US forces and attacks by local militias that target civilians. The death toll of the US soldiers hit 4,000 and the number of suicide cases among them is reportedly on the increase.

Left open to these brutal attacks, women in Iraq are facing serious crises. At the International Women’s Day Rally in Japan, Feryal Akbar, Head of Iraq Freedom Congress Women’s Bureau, said:

“Officially released data report that as many as 650 Iraqi women were killed within the first two months of 2008.

In the city of Diyala, as many as 280 female bodies were found in a graveyard. Every month, in the southern city of Basra, more than 100 women are found dead. In the northern city of Kirkuk, one of the main hospitals in the city has dealt with a series of cases where no less than 300 women have been killed by violence or abuse in the last eight months.

Women are being killed for reasons such as not wearing hijab or wearing pants or jeans. Violations of women’s human rights were aggravated by the occupation and al-Maliki regime condones it, and is giving them a free hand.”

These innumerable cases of killings, violence, and human rights violations inflicted upon women include rape cases that are repeated on a daily basis, banning of affair with a man from different religious sect, and forcing women to wear hijab, etc. These gender-related crimes and violence are perpetrated under the name of “honor killing” and have reached a level of “Gender Cleansing” or even “Gender Genocide” in Basra, Baghdad, Mosul and Diyala.

For 35 years before the occupation, women were not killed like this, and it is evident that the situation has further deteriorated in recent years under the occupation.

We cannot condone such atrocities as these. It is a grave transgression of all the universal human rights standards such as the United Nations Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants on Human Rights, and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

In particular, it is a blatant violation of internationally continued progressive efforts which eventually took the form of the Vienna Declaration, adopted at the World Human Rights Conference in 1993, and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women adopted at the UN General Assembly in the same year, in addition to the Action Program adopted at the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

We hold the US and its allied forces in Iraq alongside the Iraqi government and the local militias responsible for these acts of barbarism and blatant infringement of human rights, and make appeals to the world as indicated below.

1. The United Nations has pointed out the ever spreading human rights violations in Iraq including honor-related crimes in its report compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in November 2007 that warns these attacks are tantamount to crimes against humanity and violate the laws of war, and recommended a rectification of the situation. However, this recommendation is not effective. Immediate international sanction measures are necessary to address the situation that has reached a level of “Gender Cleansing” and to give effective recommendations to the Iraqi government and multi-national forces. Also measures must be taken to support the women and bereaved families victimized by violence.

2. The Iraqi central and regional governments should ratify the UN conventions to end all forms of discrimination against women, and immediately enforce sanctions and take necessary legal measures based on the universal human rights standards, without condoning or encouraging gender-related killings and violence perpetrated under the name of “honor killing” or to “clear oneself of a disgrace.” They should also take measures to support the women and bereaved families victimized by violence.

3. The United States should immediately withdraw its occupation forces from Iraq, halt rapes and violence against women by the military, and take measures to support the women and bereaved families victimized by violence.

4. The Japanese government should comply with the ruling by the Nagoya Higher Court in April 2008, which declared the dispatching of Air Self-Defense Force to Iraq unconstitutional, and should withdraw all the Self-Defense Forces troops deployed abroad. It also should exert its leadership as a member state of the UN Human Rights Council by stopping such human rights violations as the killing of women and other gender-based
violence in Iraq.

May 2008

Women’s Bureau of Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC), Iraq

Opening for Peace, Equality and Nexus (OPEN), Japan

Contact details:

Feryal Akbar, Ms., IFC Women’s Bureau – info (at)

YAMAMOTO Yoshiko, Ms., OPEN – UIH42927 (at)

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