More than one out of every three women in Iraq has either experienced first-hand or had a family member who has suffered devastating violence, be it sexual assault, domestic violence, kidnapping or assault. Often, these incidents go unreported and the survivors are left with no support. Lack of quality information had made it difficult for a long time to track instances of violence against women.
Towards a Solution
Between 2012 and 2015, the Family Protection, Support, Security and Justice for Victims of Domestic and Gender-based Violence Programme developed by UNDP sought to tackle this issue head on. The programme supported the Government of Iraq in undertaking policy, legislative, social and economic reforms to enhance the response of national institutions, improve access to justice, and empower victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence. UNDP facilitated South-South knowledge transfers, workshops and study tours to enable Iraqi authorities to learn from their Jordanian counterparts how to establish family protection systems, facilitate law enforcement and ensure access to justice for victims.
Through country-to-country cooperation and exchanges, the programme provided comprehensive technical and advisory support combined with extensive capacity- development interventions for Iraqi stakeholders. Learning from Jordanian experiences, the programme helped to build the capacity of formal and informal institutions to establish family protection systems and facilitate law enforcement and access to justice for the victims of violence, based on a holistic approach to domestic and gender-based violence in the Iraqi context.
As a result, the project was able to establish family protection units within police stations across the country. In 2012, over 7,000 domestic violence cases were reported, and the number of female police recruits increased. In addition, the Kurdistan Regional Government adopted the Domestic Violence Bill and a similar bill is under review by the Government of Iraq. A national pool of local trainers has also been created to enhance the capacity of Family Protection Unit representatives from the Iraqi governorates.
The cultural, social and linguistic similarities, including a common tribal social system, between Iraq and Jordan made the learning of best practices in a regional context and geographical proximity a realistic, cost-effective way to fight domestic and gender- based violence. It also helped to reduce the costs of transportation for participants.
Iraq’s adoption of the Jordanian organizational structure, its institutionalization of the domestic reporting mechanism within the Ministry of Interior, its allocation of resources from the national budget, and its formulation of an Iraqi cross-ministerial strategy (establishing links among designated committees) are proof of the strong ownership and sustainability of the programme in Iraq. The training of Family Protection Unit managers from all 18 Iraqi governorates and the creation of a national pool of local trainers have helped to ensure the sustainability of the capacity development activities. Local experts of the Family Protection Units can also share their knowledge with other countries in the region.
The following conditions are necessary to ensure replication and scaling up of the project: (a) ensuring government ownership and leadership by making it a government-owned initiative; (b) benchmarking best regional practices that have a similar cultural background; and (c) tailoring and adopting technical tools, training and assistance to the local context.
Implementing partners in Iraq included the Family Protection Units at the federal level and the Directorate for Tracing Violence against Women at the regional level. Other participating national partners included the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Health, the High Council of Women in Kurdistan and civil society organizations. In Jordan, the Ministry of Social Development and the Jordanian Family Protection Department were part of the Public Security Directorate. UNDP supported the project as the coordinating agency in collaboration with UNICEF, UNFPA and UN-Women. The Governments of Denmark and Norway provided financial support.
Sustainable Development Goal targets: 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 16.1, 16.2, 16.3
Countries / territories involved: Iraq, Jordan
Supported by: UNDP, UNICEF
Implementing entities: Ministry of Interior, Family Protection Units at the federal level, the Directorate for Tracing Violence against Women at the regional level
Project status: Completed
Project period: 2012 to 2015
URL of the practice: http://www.iq.undp.org/content/iraq/en/home/operations/projects/womens_empowerment/ fsjs.html
Name: . Nahid Hussein, Project Manager