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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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KHRP calls for an end to injustice for women in the Kurdish Regions

In bringing attention to the plight of women in the Kurdish regions, KHRP Celebrates International Women’s Day.  


In 2011, KHRP continues to raise awareness around the difficulties women have in accessing justice in the Kurdish regions. Whether they are in Turkey, Iraq, Iran or Syria, women face an uphill battle in their respective legal systems.  Laws, court’s interpretations of laws as well as administrative and social practices all contribute to women not being able to realise their basic human rights.


KHRP has closely followed the case in Turkey of a man who ran over his 17 year old pregnant wife and killed her because she had been raped by his brother.  KHRP was the only international observer at case which began in August 2009 and continues today. The findings of KHRP’s delegation reflect a failure on the part of the state to uphold commitment to human rights law concerned with gender based violence and discrimination. KHRP was disturbed to learn from its partner organisation the Van Women’s Association that at the most recent hearing on the 21 February 2011, a fight broke out between Pesen’s family and the accused, and the security in the courtroom battered the victims family. This horrific killing of Eylem Pesen again highlights the fact that much more needs to be done to improve the situation on women’s rights in the region and to insure the authorities upholds their stated aims of protection of women from violent abuse.


In addition, just over a week ago, a 13 year old girl’s abusers in Mardin were given reduced sentences for her rape because she was deemed willing.  The Court gave no consideration of her age and the fact that she deserved special protection as a child.  In the trial and it was reported that she was made to re-enact sexual positions in one of the hearings where she gave testimony.


The Heartland Alliance in Iraq with whom the KHRP has been allied over the years has recently released an eye-opening report entitled ‘Institutionalized Violence Against Women and Girls in Iraq’. While noting some advancements in the legal infrastructure and resources in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, it notes that women are still far too often blamed for the violence perpetrated against them. Read the full report here.


In both Iran and Syria, the situation for women is dire. Iranian women suffer from systematic persecution and discrimination rooted in constitution and laws that refuse to recognise their equality with men. Women face challenges both in discriminatory laws and through patriarchal attitudes in society. The implementation of Shari’a law seriously impacts on Iranian women’s lives and the Iranian penal Code has a particularly discriminatory legal framework when it comes to ‘Honour crimes’ which means that many more women than men are convicted and executed for these sort of crimes.


Syria’s denial of citizenship of up to 300 000 Kurds particularly affects women. These Kurdish women are expected to take care of the children without access to healthcare, they have limited assess to work and they are denied basic rights such as having their marriage legally recognised or have their own property. In addition they cannot leave the country due to no identity documents or passports. Furthermore, organisations working for women’s rights are banned in Syria.


‘Women across the Kurdish regions deserve much more from their governments and those charged with implementing the law.  KHRP calls on governments in the region to ensure that women’s rights are considered integral to the advancement of human rights as a whole.  Equally, the international community has an obligation to support the networks of men and women working support these rights.’ KHRP Chief Executive said today.