Defending Victims of Honour Killings
In an interview to the Washington, D.C. based Voice of America, Widad said:
“Many women and girls live in fear of becoming the next victims of the so-called honour crimes, for they live in societies controlled by patriarchal values, and under the shadow of judicial systems that do not fully hold the perpetrators accountable… The failure to address honour killings in a systematic and comprehensive manner is a failure to achieve healthy and fair societies.”
In an interview via Skype to Washington-based Voice of America, Widad talked about the new wave of honour killings in Kurdistan region, Iraq and Turkey.
One of the recent honour killings in Kurdistan region was the case of the 27-year-old woman, Shadia Jasim Hemed Ali, who was killed by her husband in front of Erbil court during their divorce proceedings. Another case was reported in Kirikkale, a town in Turkey’s Central Anatolia region, where a woman called Emine Bulut was slaughtered by her ex-husband in a café, in front of her 10-year-old daughter.
Dr. Widad stressed that although Kurdistan regional government has established the Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women and adopted a new legislation to provide protection for women against violence, the law does not regulate honour-related killings, and in such cases the Iraqi Penal Code of 1969 is still applicable. In line with the current Penal Codes, the perpetrators of honour killings are sentenced in Iraq to 1-3 years imprisonment, while in Turkey the sentence may be 5 years in prison. With the existing judicial systems in place, both Iraq and Turkey lag significantly behind international standards in terms of protecting females from the so-called honour-related crimes. As a result, many women and girls live in fear of becoming the next victims of honour killings, for they live in societies controlled by patriarchal values, and under the shadow of judicial systems that do not fully hold the criminals accountable – systems that underpin gender inequality, favouring those with influence and power against the vulnerable females.
Dr. Widad Akreyi recommended a change in current laws and the establishment of de-escalation networks led by women organisations that are supposed to perform their work without improper influence, direct or indirect, actual or potential from the national authorities or radicalised, religious actors.
“The failure to address honour killings in a systematic and comprehensive manner is a failure to achieve healthy and fair societies,” Dr. Widad said conclusively, “The respective authorities and the concerned members of societies are urged to send a strong message that such violations of women’s right to life are not tolerated and will be prosecuted in accordance with international standards.”