The year 2020 was difficult, globally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its associated human and economic losses. But the conditions in Iraq are always different, more precisely, always worse. The year started with the continuation of the peaceful organized protests, that have already begun in 2019, representing the free will of the citizens who sought for governmental and institutional reformations. However, despite the pandemic, the protests continued, while the government violated human rights in an attempt to stop the peaceful demonstrations of the popular rejection.
The year has also witnessed a systematic pattern of women killing, that can be traced back to 2017, or in fact back to the period after the 2003 war. Educated women, activists, academics, social media influencers, liberals, or simply women who speak the truth, are those who have been subjected to killing, by armed groups (supported by the corrupted government). It was a usual day (with typical societal and governmental oppression), for Reham Yacoub, a brilliant doctor and activist who thought that she can protest against the oppressive regime yet was cruelly shot by an assault rifle-brandishing gunman on the back of a motorcycle on August 19th, 2020. According to Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor who commented on the incident, “the continuing policy of impunity in Iraq encouraged the escalation of systematic assassinations outside the law, the most recent of which was the assassination of the prominent protest activist Reham Yacoub on Wednesday”. For Sheelan Dara, a Kurdish pharmacist, who participated in the protests and was killed, along with her family in Baghdad, in September 2020, it was a delusion that she can practice her civil rights and protests, in the flawed democracy claimed by the authoritarian government. The actions to silence those “rebellion”, or any outspoken women are clearly systematic, to suppress the ignition of the Iraqi revolution, and to enforce and maintain dominance, violently.
More recently, the cruelty and violence against women has manifested in the terrorism of the Iran-backed Shia militia “Rab’ Allah”, against women who work in a message parlour. The incident encapsulates such a clear pattern of women rights’ violations. The attack of a group of armed men raiding the parlour and hitting two women was recorded in a video that has been circulated in social media. This attack occurred in the supposedly, relatively safer area of Erbil, Kurdistan, another form of patriarchal society run by a tribal authoritarian government where other patterns of women rights’ violations happen, needs a whole different article to cover.
Although the systematic women assassinations haven been noticed, reported and analyzed, yet actions are unfortunately continuing in women rights violations in the country. Such attempts to document these incidents are represented by the United Nations experts reporting and warning against this pattern. In a recent statement the UN expert states that: “It is outrageous that women in Iraq have to risk or lose their life to defend human rights”, and they are calling for investigations. Despite such an attempt, and the reporting of other organizations such as the Human Rights Watch, UN Women, UN Human Rights, who provide regular statements and reports on those violations of women rights, attempting to protect women, the situation in Iraq is getting worse. As a female from Iraq, I can foresee more women rights breaches, given the current corruption, armed militias’ control, societal oppression, and civil unrest.