Copyright © 2008 All Rights Reserved. Al-Hakim Foundation.   
Elimination of Violence Against Women:  The Role of
Religious Leadership and Community

Dr. Jafar Jawad

Dr. Bayan Alaraji …………Al Hakim Foundation
Ms. Layla Alkhafaji ………Al Hakim Foundation
Jane Durgom-Powers ..IFFAMPAC
Ms. Lisa Locke ………………..WCRP

While women in many parts of the world have made advances in areas previously closed to them, the problem of violence against
women remains pervasive. Unfortunately, this violence takes many forms and occurs across national, cultural, racial, and religious
borders. The practicing of violence against women has become a serious universal phenomenon from which all the societies in the
rejected by religion, law and living humanitarian conscience.
Islam condemns all forms of violence against women. The basic Islamic premise of equality between women and men cannot be
achieved so long as violence against women persists.
I am going to leave the topic of Islamic Perspective on Violence against Women to Dr. Bayan. And focus on my speech on the
phenomenon of violence against women in Iraq as an area of conflict.

About Iraqi women:
I do not want to go back in detail for how it were during sadam time, May be some reports talk about how women were in better
situation during sadam regime compared to what we like to call – New Democratic Iraq - now – I read some of these report and my
first reaction as Iraqi women  was – Please give me break – as you were not in the situation to have the right to talk on my behalf.
Now Iraqi women achieved a lot after the fall of the regime especially after long years of oppression, sanction, and 2 wars.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq, Staffan Dmistora, on the occasion of International
Women's Day in Baghdad on Sunday 8th of march 2009,said that "Iraqi women have achieved significant progress in the way of
emphasis on their rights to political representation in the provincial elections which took place in the end of last January.
Just to mention also that Iraqi women presents 25% of the national parliament – more than in many countries.

But Iraqi women still vulnerable to discrimination:
The situation of women after the fall of the regime deteriorated as security situation were out of control. Sectarian and political
violence escalated throughout the country,  Members of different armed groups, including Ba'athists Saddamists, Sunni and Shi'a
extremists and others, targeted civilians for deliberate killings, abductions and other abuses. Many bodies of the victims bore marks
of torture and were dumped on streets.
There was increased violence against women, including abductions, rapes and "honour killings" by male relatives. Politically active
women, those who did not follow a strict dress code, and women human rights defenders were increasingly at risk of abuses,
including by armed groups and some group of extremists.
I went back to Iraq after the fall of the Regime at 2004 to take part in the constitutional educational program sponsored by
international community, Only doing this make me a Target to the Terrorist and-  I still keep the “threat Envelope” I received at 12
midnight at my family house with threatening letter and a bullet inside.
I will not talk about all types of violence Iraqi women encountered but the most are:

1- The Bombed Cars and Explosives  devices
There were of the effects of these explosions many tragedies that affected the woman which are:

A- The woman is the victim either killed or become a handicaps which disables her from practicing her normal life in addition to the
psychological effects.

B- The woman may lose as a result of the explosion, the husband, father or brother and generally the supporter and in this case the
economical burden of the family rests on the shoulders of the woman especially if she was a mother which forces her to be
responsible for the family and takes the role of the woman and the man and the case in Iraq is tragical where the number of widows
are in millions and the number of orphans exceeds twice the number of widows.

2-  The Kidnapping:
In addition to the tragedies of explosions which reap the souls of tens each time and leave hundreds of handicapped, appeared in
the Iraqi society in the wake of the absence of  law and the weak control of the state, the gangs of organized crime which practice
kidnapping for many motives.
A- Political: Where subjected to kidnapping and torture persons (men and women) who practice political activity and ideological
trend differs from what others believe in and the criminal gangs liquidate the other after torturing and killing.
B-  Material (Economical): Many of the rich were subjected to kidnapping and torture with the aim of blackmailing their families
demanding large amounts of money and often the money is taken and the kidnapped is killed and men, women and children were
subjected to this case.
And of the reflections of the matter of kidnapping many families were forced to prevent   their daughters and wives from going to
schools and work.

3- The Coercive Displacing
The districts inhabited by mostly Shiites or mostly Sunnis were subjected to displacing affects the lesser category in them to be
isolated districts for Shiites or Sunnis only so that Doura, Amiriya, Hay Al-Jihad, Abo Ghraib, Hay Al-Jamiea, Hay Al-Adil, Al-Ghazaliya
and Baqouba became restricted for the Sunni sect and the districts of Al-Hurriya, Al-Kadhimiya and Al-Shuala became restricted for
the Shiite sect, and this matter affected our Christian brothers as what happened in Mosul and other places. This matter had
reflections on the life of woman because families moved from their houses and places of work to other districts to save their lives
and this had great effect where it resulted in girls leaving their schools and places of work and were forced to live at a standard
below their expectations together with delaying their careers for years and what accompanied that of economical, social,
psychological and health consequences where some of the displaced families lived in camps which do not protect them from the
heat of summer and the cold of winter.

Honor Killings
Religious illiteracy is a pervasive problem in the Muslim world that allows for such crimes to be wrongly justified by Islam. A
woman's moral conduct is not 'owned' by anyone else but herself.  "It is for God to judge her, and to determine the punishment for
any moral indiscretions on her part, not for her family of the society to do so."

The general devaluation of female children, along with the culturally acceptable notion that women bear the burden of honour for
their entire family, creates an environment where such a heinous act could occur.
Furthermore, individual members of society should not allowed to take the law into their own hands and deliver punishment,
regardless of whether a crime has been committed or not.
Role of religious and political leaders:-.
during the crisis of Honour killing women in Basra and Kurdistan, Iraqi human rights women activists, call upon the and effective
leaders, to begin a campaign of religious education of their people, emphasizing the principles of equality, justice and accountability
as expressed in Islam”
Female suicide bombers

Other type of violence against women is the use of females as suicide bombers by the terrorist groups mostly Alqaida
Nearly 50 women have conducted suicide attacks in Iraq since 2003, The most recent once is carried by female bombers at shia
pilgrims to karbala killed 35 and injured more than 50 mostly women and children. After the 2007,  Suicide attacks in Iraq are
increasingly conducted by women, who can hide the bombs under robes and can take advantage of less-stringent security
protocols for women at checkpoints , they are rarely subjected to body searches, because it is considered improper in Muslim
culture for a male to scrutinize (much less pat down) a woman. Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in Iraq are now exploiting this fact
to avoid security measures. .

Moreover, experts say, the use of women in attacks offers a greater psychological impact against the target population and offers
greater publicity to the attackers.
So it is tactical allure and strategic context, not psychology or culture, that best explains the rise in Iraqi women bombers.
Now what is the Motivation to these Female Bombers:-
The motivations of suicide attackers in general are not well understood, what prompts women to strap on explosives and target
crowds,. Some reports indicate that certain women are motivated by revenge for male relatives or spouses killed in the continuing
violence, while other subjective evidence suggests that others are unwittingly used to transport explosives that are remotely
detonated. Some of these women confessed after they been arrested before they blast themselves that they were brainwashed by
male relatives to carry these attacks to follow their lost beloved once to Paradise.
Mentally impaired women were also been used as suicide attackers, killing 73 in Baghdad in one of the incident.

Alhakim foundation

The extensive area of this phenomenon requires extensive area in searching all the available and effective mechanisms in order to
rid the societies from it. Therefore we in Al-Hakim Organization in Iraq, Through our motion in our Iraqi society inflicted by the
phenomenon of violence like other communities and in the context of the international campaign which was launched by  The
United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on 25/12/2008 to combat violence against women which he described as a global
catastrophe from which third of the women in the world suffer- we were researching and endeavoring to find the available
mechanisms and means supporting our efforts in this field,  together with observing the peculiarities of our Moslem Iraqi society-
and under these atmospheres and with the large transformations that took place in new Iraq, the initiative of remarkable leader      
Al-Sayed al-Hakim came in, declaring the first day of Safar on the Islamic calendar as an Islamic day for opposing violence against
We found in our organization that this initiative as opportunity that can not be squandered and an important step forming a basic
support for the Iraqi, international and regional efforts in this field.

The Islamism of the day does not mean restricting its activities in the framework of Islamic societies, but extends to all international
societies, where it is intended to activate the heavenly values with all humanity as one of the available mechanisms for participating
in opposing the phenomenon of violence against women everywhere. Where in these values there is great ability to educate the
human being and control his behavior in the noble ethical frames which reject the injustice and aggression.

2- The Islamism of the day will give our efforts a momentum to eliminate the lawfulness from what is committed against the women
in our society such as the phenomenon of killing which many of the women in Basra and Kurdistan in Iraq were its victims at the
hands of gangs disguised in the name of religion once and in the name of tribes and traditions sometimes, which Islam or any
other heavenly religion can not accept, the initiative rather made of opposing violence against women as a divine duty being a
humanitarian matter, because the word violence includes the aggression and transgression on the rights of others which is all
religions and laws prohibit. Therefore exploiting the initiative could participate in closing the doors towards the spread of violence in
the name of religion or extremist thoughts.

3- This initiative is an invitation to all activities and national and international organizations to study all the sources of justice and
fairness which could participate today in building the humanitarian society and alleviates its pains and sufferings among them the
violence from which woman suffers everywhere.

4- The launcher of the initiative Al-Sayed Al-Hakim intended this initiative to come to stop violence against women without
mentioning the mechanisms because he wanted it to be open to all the successful mechanism, solutions and remedies to which
the international organizations for women and human rights have reached. It is an invitation to develop the spirit of mutual work
among all, and be far from all the special sensitivities which hinder the efforts of weaken the solidarity in working for the sake of the
just issues of women.