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Calling on men to make Iraqi Kurdistan safer for women

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Post by Ponee Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:43 am

Calling on men to make Iraqi Kurdistan safer for women  458113700
An unidentified 45-year-old man murdered his 15-year-old child-bride (Photo) identified as Dunya, in a gruesome act of violence that involved cutting off her breasts, gouging her eyes, shooting her nine times with a gun and dragging her body tied behind a car. Photo: Ekurd.net/Local media • See Related Articles
June 1, 2014

A peaceful demonstration, a candlelight vigil. Again an underage Kurdish girl was married off, abused and killed. I see many shocked friends who once again go through the process of protesting, remembering and most of all trying to raise awareness.

The 15-year-old Dunya is one of many Kurdish women who have fallen victim to a conservative society dominated by males, who set their own rules – even if those rules conflict with those of their own elected government.

Dunya was only one of many underage girls married off to an older man, and her parents are one of many couples who usually get away with it. So was the imam who conducted this marriage. The neighbors did not report it, nor did anyone else who noticed it, or when the abuse started.

That amazes me, in a country like Kurdistan where social control is so intense. On the other hand this tell me that those around Dunya apparently did not think twice, or considered the whole affair normal or a good solution.

“Marry them young!” many mothers advice other mothers about their daughters. Because in a male dominated society, young girls are considered to be at risk. Their honor is easily violated, especially in this day and age of young, frustrated men who look up to the Internet and the West for what they want.

Some mothers still think that a marriage is the best solution for their daughters, not because they wish her ill, but because they want to protect her. Many mothers wish to have their daughters safely dropped into a marriage where no harm can come to her.

There is a legal age set by the government that should prevent parents from marrying girls off too young. But often religion and its imams have a far bigger impact on mothers than the government laws.

In these cases, many people are responsible for what happens to a girl. First of all the parents, who should make sure their daughter is safe, not just in the sense of her honor, but also physically and personal integrity.

In the Kurdish society often everybody knows everything about each other, which in some ways must guarantee our safety. Why not then interfere and protect girls from being married off underage, even more so to an abusive husband?

Responsibility also lies with the imam, who agreed to marry her to the older man, knowing full well it is against the law.

Many things went wrong in the personal surroundings of Dunya, mainly because the people involved had a different perception on what is good for a young girl from that in a modern society where equality between men and women is widely accepted.

Even out there things go wrong. No society is perfect. Girls get raped and sexually assaulted there too. But not so much with the help of those whom they should be able to trust: their parents, their families.

After Dunya’s death, I support the cry for awareness. We need people to speak out, to influence others and convince them that violence against women must stop.

The society needs to agree on the position of women. It is also the men in the Kurdish society that have to make the change. First in their heads, then in society.

If they mean to keep girls and women safe they should know what is needed to do so. What measures are right in today’s society where young men and women meet at schoolwww.Ekurd.net and elsewhere, where the concept of ‘love’ between the sexes is slowly entering the way of life, where women are getting a good education and are Member of Parliament or Ministers.

It is the men in Kurdistan that need to step forward and make the world a safer place for their wives, daughters, and mothers – at the same time for other men’s spouses. A world that is safe for women is a better place for all.

Kurdish men should take over this issue. Discuss it at home, at work, with young people, amongst themselves. They cannot sit back and think: it does not affect me, or ‘the Prime Minister already spoke out, what can I add?’

Men who understand the significance of this issue must make a move and speak out. They have a responsibility to make the Kurdish society a better one for women.


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