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Domestic Violence On the Rise in Iraq

Domestic violence is on the rise In Iraq, and there are few places for abused and vulnerable women to seek refuge, an Al-Jazeera story reports. Rights groups have said that domestic violence has increased since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, leaving many women in danger and with nowhere to turn. Few women have relatives who are willing to take them in after escaping their abusive husbands, and there are no government-run shelters for women outside northern Kurdistan in Iraq. After Saddam Hussein fell, many extremist religious groups became a more prominent part of Iraqi society, and some of these groups consider shelters for abused women “distasteful and immoral,” according to the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq. The organization, which has lobbied for government-run shelters for years, cannot get a license for a shelter but runs a safe-house in a secret location for women who would be killed if they returned to their families.

Al-Jazeera interviewed some of the women hiding in the safe-house, including a woman whose family wanted to kill her after she was kidnapped by strangers, a woman whose brother tried to rape her, and a former professor who received death threats because she is a lesbian. While these women have found relative safety with the help of this organization, there are thousands more like them across Iraq who cannot leave and would have no place to go if they left.

Watch the report here.