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New weapon’s law in Iraq deadly threat to women

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A serious threat to all people in Iraq – especially women! Iraqi women’s rights organization ASUDA is very critical of a recently adopted law, that allows all citizens of Iraq to keep a gun in their home.

When Saddam Hussein were in power in Iraq, people were encouraged to carry guns in support of the Ba’ath regime. The gun became a symbol of honour and loyalty. Now, nine years after the fall of the Ba’ath party, the Iraqi government, following the recommendation of the country’s National Security Council, May 6th announced that all citizens from now on can keep a gun at home. The only restriction is that all weapons have to be registered at the nearest police station.

Many women’s organizations in Iraq are deeply concerned about the direction in which the country is heading, and what they see as a clear connection between a militarization of the society, an easy access to small arms and the escalating brutal violence against women.

Holds Prime Minister accountable

One of the organizations, Warvin, has previously reported on the connection between murdered women and guns being kept at home. When hearing about the new law they released a statement condemning it and holding the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki personally responsible for any new cases of women being murdered. ”It is a widely known fact that a government’s first responsibility is providing security and safety for its citizens and fulfill the rule of law in the country. (…) Instead of eradicating and collecting the weapon in Iraq to pave the way to exert the legal authority in the country, as one of the promises he made to people at the time of the election campaign, Maliki has turned his back to the law” the statement said.

Khanim Latif, ASUDA. Photo: The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation.

Campaign against guns

In the Kurdistan region, Iraq, several women’s organizations have joined forces in a campaign with the aim to get a ban on the private possession of small arms. By approving this new law, the government is signalling that issues of women’s security are not of any importance, says Khanim Latif at the women’s organization ASUDA.

- We were expecting a ban on possession of weapons, and for the government to start the process of eradicating and collecting the illegal weapons present in our society. We didn’t expect them to suddenly decide on a legalisation instead. This law represents a serious threat to all people in Iraq – especially women!

Meeting with the Parliament Speaker

ASUDA initiated the campaign, after a period of a drasticly increasing number of women getting killed by privately owned small arms. Naturally they are very concered about this new agenda.

- This law will most probably create instability and lead to a deteriorating security situation in Iraq. And it is likely that there will be an increase in incidents between different ethnic groups, which will lead to even more violence.

But the organizations are not giving up. May 9th they met with the Speaker of the Kurdistan region’s Parliament to discuss it and they will also advocate for the Iraqi government decision not to be carried out in the Kurdistan region.

 Why now?

One of the major questions is of course why Iraq is adopting this new weapon law right now? Ala Riani, coordinator for Iraq at the women and peace organization the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, elaborates:

- One of the suggestions is that by legalizing these weapons the government is legalizing the many militia groups that are active in the country. And most of them are said to be connected to Nouri al-Maliki.