Speaking out

President of secret shelter network says Iraqi government stands in way of women’s safety

Iraqi activist Yanar Mohammed, head of the Women's Freedom in Iraq Organization. (Akram Saleh /Getty Images).

For more than a decade the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) has helped women evade traffickers and domestic violence through an underground network of shelters. OWFI’s president Yanar Mohammed recently spoke to the UN Security Council, calling out the Iraqi government for hampering her organization’s work:

Iraqi authorities do not allow women’s organizations to provide shelter to the thousands of women fleeing conflict-related violence, and independent radio stations that promote peace across sectarian divides, dispel misogyny and combat homophobia have been shut down.

Discriminatory laws and policies prevent women who are fleeing armed conflict, honor crimes, trafficking, abductions, sexual and gender based violence, or forced marriage from obtaining legal identification without a male family member. Perpetrators of honor killings receive mitigated sentences, if they are punished at all.

Mohammed told Quartz she has the names of at least 600 women kidnapped from Mosul since ISIS overtook the city in June 2014.

OWFI seeks to advance and spread awareness for both human rights and women’s rights.

Read the full story at Quartz.

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