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How we can stop violence in Iraqi Kurdistan?

1/3/2019 2:45:19 PM

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Karwan Ibrahim
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In general, Kurdish society is a patriarchal one and that mentality has entered into the very cells of the community. Most of the violence against women in the Kurdistan Region is conducted by men, many of whom have a conservative and old-fashioned mindset, a classic and patriarchal mentality.  We also see women committing violence against other women. Those women have also been affected by that patriarchal mentality. To combat this mentality, what do we need to do to create change in Iraqi Kurdistan?

We must change the thinking and behavior of individuals through education. There are women teachers, but they may also be thinking in patriarchal ways and ingraining inequality between boys and girls. Even though from childhood there are barriers for girls in the family: they draw many limitations for her imagination, her energy, and her intelligence. The point is that people in the Kurdistan Region must change the way they think about life, women, society, and freedom.

The tragic, recent events in Chamchamal will not be the last of its kind until we change the viewpoint of Kurdish people. Likewise, the Chamchamal event is not the first of its kind, where they made a fire just like hell for a woman and her three innocent children. It will not be the final tragedy. There will be much more tragedies, if things do not change.

It was in December 16, 2018, around 9:00 o’clock at night, when a man in Sulaimani’s town of Chamchamal burned his wife and her three children. The children died at that time, but the woman named Sewan Qadir, aged 23, did not die until December 24, 2018 at a hospital.

There is a mentality in Iraqi Kurdistan that makes this kind of tragedy repeatable. People see women as a part of the honor of the family, the tribe, father and the brothers. When she makes a small mistake, they can kill her. They think they have the right to kill her because she is their honor. This is a big part of the tragedy, viewing women as honor.

What we need in Iraqi Kurdistan is a social revolution that can change the view point of Kurdish people about honor. We should think that the homeland is our honor; protecting environment and cultivating trees are our honor; freedom and coexistence is our honor; respect, developing, and accepting other’s differences are our honor: not killing women on behalf of protecting a family’s honor. A brother or a man should think that never have the right to kill his sister or his wife.

The men in Iraqi Kurdistan are free to do everything for themselves, but they don’t let their sisters or their wives to practice their own natural rights. For instance, women and girls have been killed for using a mobile. We must talk about the social revolution that must come to this region. We should think that our honor is our region’s nature: there is a very low percentage of greenery in the region. The percentage of green area in a big town like Kalar is 3%, according the global standard it should be at least 25%; meanwhile, the rate of violence is very high. And in Chamchamal the green area is not more than 5%. People are planting violence, instead of planting trees.

The issue is related to the mind and thinking of people, related to the education. The issue is with the system from the media channels to the classes of the schools, from family to the mosques, to the political system, all of them are related to each other and they make a violent individual and finally a violent society.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, there is not only violence against women, but there is violence against environment and wildlife. Many Kurdish men love to have weapon and kill a bear, a rabbit, or a beautiful bird while singing on a tree. There are few wild animals and wild birds in Kurdistan anymore. This is violence against nature, just like violence against women, just like violence against different religions, against an atheist. That is why I am speaking about the relations between violence and education: Kurdish individuals have a bad education. This is why there are destroyed personalities and why there is violence everywhere.

The issue is in the mind, in understanding, in how we think about life. What is happening in the Kurdistan Region is a tragedy: we say that Kurdish people are an oppressed people, that we are fighting for our own basic rights, but what we are doing against women is barbaric and brutal. It shows a poor image of Kurdish society to the globe that we kill women. We must change this situation with a social and educational revolution.

Karwan Ibrahim, is a senior news editor in Iraqi Kurdistan, and studied for his Master's in Communication and Journalism in India. He can be reached at [email protected]