Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:02 pm (KSA) 09:02 am (GMT)

Violence against women surges in Kurdistan

Crimes against women are continuing despite campaigns and condemnations (File)
Crimes against women are continuing despite campaigns and condemnations (File)

Medics in Iraqi Kurdistan said on Saturday that they had seen a surge in violence against women in May, with both so-called "honor" killings and female suicide on the increase.

"At least 14 women died in the first 10 days of May alone," a doctor told AFP in the region's second largest city of Sulaimaniyah.

"Seven of them took their own lives, the other seven were murdered in still unexplained circumstances," apparently the victims of "honor" killings.

"Over the same period, we recorded 11 attempted self-immolations -- these women were so desperate they set fire to themselves," the doctor added, asking not to be identified.

According to Kurdish regional government figures, in Sulaimaniyah province alone more than 50 women attempted to burn themselves to death in the first four months of the year and another eight attempted to hang themselves.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has regularly highlighted "honor" killings of Kurdish women as among Iraq's most severe human rights abuses.

Most of such crimes are reported as deaths due to accidental fires in the home.

Aso Kamal, a 42-year-old British Kurdish Iraqi campaigner, says that from 1991 to 2007, 12,500 women were murdered for reasons of "honor" or committed suicide in the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq.

Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region runs its own affairs and has enjoyed relative peace and growing prosperity since the US-led invasion of 2003, while Arab areas of Iraq have been plunged into sectarian warfare.

Crimes against women are continuing despite campaigns by human rights activists and repeated condemnation of the oppression by women members of the regional government and regional parliament.

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