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Kurdistan's forgotten victims: the women killed for honour

A place for discussion and exchanging ideas about Kurdistan issues here, also a place for sharing article & views and analysis about Kurdistan .

Kurdistan's forgotten victims: the women killed for honour

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:40 pm


The Kurdistan Region is a federated region in Iraq. Its main institutions are the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdistan Region Presidency, and the Kurdistan Parliament. As stipulated in Iraq’s federal constitution, Kurdistan’s institutions exercise legislative and executive authority in many areas, including allocating the Regional budget, police and security, education and health policies, natural resource management and infrastructural development. The Kurdistan Regional Government also works together with the federal Iraqi government to ensure the application of the Iraqi Constitution, and to cooperate with the federal government on other areas which concern all regions of Iraq.

Kurdistan Regional Government

The democratically elected Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) exercises executive power according to the Kurdistan Region’s laws, as enacted by the Kurdistan Parliament.

The current government, led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, assumed office on 5 April 2012. His Deputy is Mr Imad Ahmad Sayfour.

The government coalition consists of a variety of political parties, reflecting the political, religious and ethnic diversity of the Region’s people, who are Kurds, Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriac, Yazidis and others living together in harmony and tolerance.

The cabinet is made up of members of the Kurdistani List coalition, which won the region’s parliamentary elections in July 2009, together with other parties. The coalition government consists of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Kurdistan Islamic Movement, the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council, Turkmen representatives, Communists and Socialists. The government has 19 cabinet ministries.

The KRG is based in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, and it currently administers the governorates of Erbil, Suleimaniah and Duhok.

The KRG’s vision and policies are outlined below. For news and additional information, please visit the KRG’s website at:

Kurdistan Region Presidency

The Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP) was established as an institution by the Kurdistan Parliament in 2005. The President of the Kurdistan Region has the highest executive authority. He or she is elected by secret ballot in a popular vote every four years and can stand for election for a second term.

Mr Masoud Barzani, the current President, was elected as the Kurdistan Region's first President on 31 January 2005 by the Kurdistan Parliament, with Mr Kosrat Rasul Ali as the Vice President.

In July of 2009, Mr Masoud Barzani was re-elected by secret popular ballot by the people of the Kurdistan Region with 70% of the vote. The President’s secretariat, called the Diwan, is headed by his Chief of Staff.

The President represents the people of Kurdistan at national and international levels, and he oversees relations and coordination between the Region and the federal authorities of Iraq. He also represents the people of Kurdistan at Iraq’s Political Council for National Security, and in negotiations and consultations with other parties in Iraq.

He is responsible for approving the KRG Prime Minister’s special appointments and promotions, and for ratifying all laws passed by the Kurdistan Parliament. He has the power to return any law passed by the Parliament once only for further debate and amendment.

For news and additional information, please visit the President’s website at:

Kurdistan Parliament

The Kurdistan Parliament is the Kurdistan Region’s democratically elected legislature. The parliament consists of one elected chamber.

Functions of the Kurdistan Parliament

The three main functions of the parliament are:

to examine proposals for new laws;
to scrutinise government policy and administration;
to debate the major issues of the day.

Founding principles

The founding principles of the Kurdistan Parliament are liberty, pluralism, accountability, openness and the representation of all peoples in the Kurdistan Region.

History of the Kurdistan Parliament

The parliament was established in 1992, in the first free and fair elections ever held in the Kurdistan Region or in any part of Iraq.

To protect civilians from attacks by Iraqi military forces following the 1991 Gulf War, the US, UK and France initiated a no-fly zone above the 36th line of latitude which cuts across Kurdistan. On the ground, a security zone was established by military forces from eleven countries. These no-fly and security zones strongly supported and encouraged refugees, including those who had left in the 1970s, to return to their homes.

Later in 1991, Saddam Hussein withdrew his forces and his administration, including the national flag, from parts of the Kurdistan Region. Compounding the hardship caused by an international UN embargo on Iraq, Saddam Hussein enforced an additional internal embargo on the region that stopped food and fuel supplies, disconnected electrical power and prevented the movement of people to other parts of the country.

Faced with the administrative vacuum and double embargo, the Kurdistan Front, an alliance of diverse political groups in the Kurdistan Region, decided to hold a general election. Their goal was to establish an administration to provide for essential public services and to meet the basic needs of the people. The population also expressed a strong desire to choose its representatives. The election, held on 19 May 1992, was the first free and fair parliamentary election in the history of Iraq. A minimum 7% threshold was set for representation in the Assembly. Voter turnout was very high and the elections were deemed to be free, fair, and democratic by international observers. After decades of dictatorship, the people in Kurdistan were able to vote for their representatives for the first time in their history.

This regional election led to the formation of the first Kurdistan National Assembly and the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The leadership and the people of the Kurdistan Region decided to remain part of Iraq, and to adopt and abide by all national laws except for those that violated human and universal rights. By 15 July 1992, the Kurdistan National Assembly had convened. Law No. 1, the first law passed by the assembly, establishing it as the Region’s legislature.

To date there have been three parliaments, following elections in 1992, 2005 and in July 2009. In 2009 the Kurdistan National Assembly was renamed the Kurdistan Parliament.


Elections for the Kurdistan Parliament are held at least every four calendar years, (as stipulated in Article 8 of the Kurdistan Electoral Law). The last parliamentary elections were held on 25 July 2009.

Anyone aged 18 or over who is a citizen of the Kurdistan Region and is on the electoral register is eligible to vote in a direct, universal and secret ballot. Elections for the Kurdistan Parliament are based on a closed party-list proportional representation system. Electors vote for a party’s list of candidates, rather than for an individual candidate. After the election results are announced, each party is allocated seats in proportion to the number of votes it received, using the ranking order of candidates on its list.

Structure of the Parliament: Ensuring broad representation

There are 111 seats in the Assembly (as stipulated in Law No. 1 passed in 1992). The Kurdistan Parliament is lead by the Speaker, Dr Arslan Bayez, who is assisted in his duties by the Deputy Speaker, Hassan Mohammed.

In February 2009 several amendments were made to the Kurdistan election law to increase inclusiveness of all groups. The minimum age of parliamentary candidates was lowered from 30 to 25. While seats had already been reserved in previous elections for minority communities, for the Christian and Turkmen communities this was increased to five seats each. The legal minimum quota of women MPs was increased from 25 percent to 30 percent of the legislature. In the current parliament, 36 of the 111 MPs are women.

Powers of the Kurdistan Parliament

As provided in the federal constitution of Iraq [1], parliament has considerable power to debate and legislate on policy in a wide range of areas:

health services
education and training
policing and security
the environment
natural resources
trade, industry and investment
social services and social affairs
transport and roads
culture and tourism
sport and leisure
ancient monuments and historic buildings

The Kurdistan Parliament shares legislative power with the federal authorities in these areas, but priority is given to the Kurdistan Parliament’s laws:

electric energy and its distribution
general planning
internal water resources

In addition, under Article 121 of the Iraqi federal constitution the Kurdistan Parliament has the right to amend the application of Iraq-wide legislation that falls outside of the federal authorities’ exclusive powers.

Landmark legislation passed by the Kurdistan Parliament

The Kurdistan Parliament has passed several laws that have contributed to the Region’s social and economic progress. These include:

passing a modern and open investment law;
passing a progressive hydrocarbons (oil and gas) law for the Kurdistan Region;
significantly increasing the prison sentence for those committing so-called honour killings, which were previously given minimum sentences.
strict limits on the practice of polygamy.

The Kurdistan Parliament approved by a large majority a constitution for the Kurdistan Region, and intends to put it to a referendum in the future.

Members of the Kurdistan Parliament

The 111 MPs in the Kurdistan parliament represent the following political lists and parties:

Kurdistan List: 59 MPs. (Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan)
Change List: 23 MPs
Reform and Services List: 13 MPs (Kurdistan Islamic Union, Islamic Group in Kurdistan, Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party, Future Party)
Islamic Movement List: 2 MPs
Freedom and Social Justice List: 1 MP (Kurdistan Communist Party, Kurdistan Toilers Party, Kurdistan Independent Work Party, Kurdistan Pro-Democratic Party, Democratic Movement of Kurdistan People).
Independent: 2

Parliamentary seats reserved for minority groups:

Turkoman Democratic Movement: 3 MPs
Turkoman Reform List: 1 MP
Turkoman Erbil List: 1 MP
Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council: 3 MPs
Al-Rafidain List: 2 MPs
1 Armenian MP: Aram Shahin Dawood Bakoyian.


The Kurdistan National Assembly has a number of standing committees which work on the following areas:

Legal affairs
Finance and economic affairs
Home affairs
Agriculture and irrigation
General and higher education
Health and social affairs
Relations and culture
Endowments and religious affairs
Transport, communication and municipalities
Industry, energy and minerals
Peshmerga affairs (armed forces)
Human rights
Works and reconstruction
Women’s rights
Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution

[1] These powers are granted in the federal constitution of Iraq, articles 114, 115, 117, 120, 121, 126 and 141.

The Kurdistan Region’s provincial authorities

The Kurdistan Region comprises the three northern-most governorates or provinces of Iraq: Erbil, Suleimaniah and Duhok. Each governorate has a democratically elected 41-seat Governing Council. The provincial Governors are Mr Nawzad Hadi in Erbil, Mr Behrouz Mohammad Salih in Suleimaniah, and Mr Tamar Ramadan Fattah in Duhok.

As well as receiving funds from the Kurdistan Region’s own budget, the governorates also receive funds for provincial capital investment and infrastructure projects directly from Baghdad. These funds are a part of the KRG’s 17% share of the federal budget.
Last edited by Anthea on Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kurdistan's forgotten victims: the women killed for honour



Re: Kurdistan Regional Government Structure & Function

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:48 pm

Kurdistan's forgotten victims:
the women killed for honour

On April 3, beside a dirt track in a field near Chamchamal, the body of a young woman was found. She was slim, clad in jeans and a top. Her body lay partially covered by the dusty brown dirt and clumps of green grass. Bruising on her neck indicated she had been strangled

She appeared to be in her early 20s, said Chamchamal Mayor Ramak Ramazan. Police have identified the woman, but don't want to release details as their investigation is ongoing, he said. Three people have been arrested and one warrant is still outstanding.

Though the police are staying mum, suspicion is this was a so-called honour killing. In 2018, 49 women were murdered across the Kurdistan Region, according to figures from the General Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women, an office that works under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior.

Another 73 women killed themselves; 257 women were set on fire – 112 of which were self-immolation; and 113 women were sexually assaulted. The directorate received 9,574 complaints of gender-based violence in the year.

There has been a fall in reported cases of violence against women in recent years after campaigns by the government, United Nations, and non-governmental organizations, but it's not enough says Parwin Hassan, a member of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s Women's Council.

"Women in the Kurdistan Region are still subject to violence because of their gender," she said.

Ninety percent of the murders seen by Dr. Yasin Kareem, general director of the Medico-Legal Institute (MLI), are committed by family members. The MLI reports to the Ministry of Health and is responsible for treating victims of violence and conducting autopsies on the dead.

After his office completes its examination, a handful of bodies are not claimed for burial, including women killed by their families. Either the family does not want them, or they have not been identified.

The bodies of mothers, sisters, and daughters who were killed by their male relatives are slid into the morgue's refrigerator where they are held for up to six months, Kareem explained. If these women are mourned, family members and friends do so in silence as they fear showing their love for the women rejected by the dominant culture of tribe or religion. If, after six months, the bodies are still unclaimed, MLI buries them.

In the Kasnazan neighbourhood, on the eastern edge of Erbil, a sprawling graveyard is the final resting place of some 10,000 of the city's dead. Family plots marked by marble headstones adorned with beautiful Islamic calligraphy cover the gentle hills. On a sunny day in April, several families come to visit their loved ones.

Tucked behind the workshop of Rekawt Sahid, who engraves headstones, lies a walled-off area that is deserted, unkempt, and has the clinical name Forensic Department section. Here, around 100 graves lie in crooked rows. Against the back wall, the graves have all but melted away, beaten down by years of wind and rain. Stone slabs tilt and lean haphazardly, marking maybe half the mounds. Spray painted numbers on the stone are the only identification.

This is the final resting place for the city's castoffs and forgotten citizens – including the women killed and abandoned by their families.

Amputated limbs are also buried in this corner of the graveyard, each carefully and individually wrapped.

Two weeks ago, the forensic team called gravedigger Mirkhan Omar and asked him to prepare seven graves. The next day, they arrived in a KIA truck loaded with dead bodies – five men and one woman – encased in nylon over the traditional cloth shroud to contain the smell.

The MLI team, wearing masks and gloves, placed the bodies in the trench dug by Omar. At the head of each, they tucked a small capsule containing everything the forensic department had been able to learn about the life of the deceased: photographs of the body, results of DNA and blood tests, any identification. Into the seventh grave, the MLI staff put the tiny bodies of six miscarried infants.

A single cinder block sits at the head of each of the fresh graves, a temporary marker until a stone slab can be prepared and labelled with a simple number.

"I've never seen anyone visiting these graves," said Sahid who has engraved headstones for 20 years, a job his father did before him.

The women killed by their families are quickly forgotten by society, said Hassan. Media will cover the news of an honour killing with a flash of intensity, but within a few days they "forget about it," she said. "People only report the case without looking for a solution."

That needs to change, she said. The safety of women is a responsibility that belongs to everyone.

"It's human nature" for grief to be fleeting, said Sahid, whose decades of work in cemeteries have given him a matter-of-fact approach to death. "When we come here, we feel sad. But when we leave, we forget about this place."

Forgotten is what these women are, unmourned in death. They lie for eternity in graves covered with wildflowers and fluttering butterflies and no indication of their lives that were cut short.
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