Friday, March 09, 2007

Perspective: Kurdish women struggle to advance

SULEIMANIYAH, 9 March (IRIN) - Women in Iraq's Kurdistan are using the relative calm in their region to make slow progress towards equal status with men – but there is still a long way to go, according to activists. Abuse by men pushed 538 women to commit suicide last year, according to Sara Qader, a journalist with the weekly Awina newspaper.

"Some of these women are still facing violence from their husbands or families and honour killings still exist in some rural areas of Kurdistan. These forced 538 women to commit suicide in 2006 alone," Qader said. She added that non-governmental agencies advocating women's rights have had no impact.

"Some of these women's organisations are affiliated to political parties and that makes it more difficult for women to advance and have rights equal to those of men," Qader said.

Kurdish women have 29 seats in the Kurdistan parliament and three portfolios. "But as a tribal society, social pressures are still being applied by men on the women which keep them from getting their rights," said Parwa Ali, a social researcher and activist.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet