Iraqi Peace and Nonviolence Activists Launch Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women

March 4th, 2009

Calling upon Iraqi citizens, politicians, the government of Iraq, and all its civil society organizations, La’Onf (the growing nonviolence movement in Iraq) has proclaimed that violence against women must be challenged and ended in their country.

On Sunday March 8th, International Women’s Day, the La’Onf Nonviolence Group will salute Iraqi women with a day of activities and events to build support for a nationwide campaign promoting discussion and action on stopping violence against women. La’Onf members will demand that the Iraqi government and the Regional Government of Kurdistan amend the Iraqi Constitution to fully guarantee an end to discrimination against women.

“We must work hard to stand up against the customs and traditions that justify violence against women in Iraq,” La’Onf states.

The call for action on March 8th specifically names lack of legislation guaranteeing women’s equality, incorrect religious interpretations concerning women’s roles and rights, the harsh repression of previous authoritarian regimes, and traditional culture.

To read more about La’Onf’s plans for March 8th go to:

La’Onf’s announcement of their new “Stop Violence Against Women” Campaign says many reports have documented flagrant violations of Iraqi women’s rights that have tragically led to dangerous levels of violence. La’Onf identifies the root causes of this violence in the harsh conditions of the past years, especially years of forced displacement and the absence of security. In the words of La’Onf:

Iraqi women have suffered under the previous authoritarian regimes, and by war, occupation and sectarian violence, they paid the price in double and the result is the emergence of an army of widows estimated in millions. This is in addition to unemployment and the withdrawal of women from the street and staying at home as a result of fear and hostility.

Despite these setbacks, La’Onf argues, Iraqi women are searching to play a role in the building of their country. While the quota system of Iraqi elections (which promises that women will hold 25% of elected offices) is an important step in promoting the empowerment of women, it is not sufficient. La’Onf is seeking to advance full equality for women in all Iraqi legislation and administration, and to assure their rights to education and work.

Recently, La’Onf states, there has been a “significant improvement in security.” It is now “the responsibility of everyone to face the phenomenon of violence against women” and to ensure that women enjoy “all their rights as equivalent to men.”

To see the full text of La’Onf’s Campaign announcement go to:

La’Onf is specifically targeting the media, men and women of religious faith, intellectuals, artists and athletes, the universities, and the embassies and consulates of foreign governments to help develop, promote and spread the word about the Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women. With this support, and relying on the network of La’Onf chapters with their elected coordinating committees that were organized in 2008 in all of the 18 governorates (provinces) of Iraq, La’Onf hopes to reach citizens across all of Iraq.

This Campaign builds upon work that La’Onf has been doing since it was founded in 2005, especially its efforts to provide education and training about nonviolence, to ban war toys, and to promote free, fair and honest provincial elections in Iraq.

Peaceful Tomorrows is honored to be bringing this news of LaOnf’s continuing work to U.S. peace and nonviolence activists, concerned citizens, and policymakers. At the end of March 2009, two Peaceful Tomorrows members, Terry Rockefeller and Hannah Harris, will be attending a conference on Iraqi Civil Society in Rome, Italy. Three members of La’Onf will be there, along with representatives of other Iraqi organizations. We are excited that we will be able to hear from Iraqis themselves about conditions in their country. We look forward to sharing new information and updates with all of you in the near future.

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Filed in: Iraq

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