At a Recent Event of the Shahrazad Campaign, A Film by the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum titled “Narjis’ Diary” Exposed and Condemned Daesh’s Crimes Against Women. Watch it here! and Read About the Urgent Issues Discussed in the Conference.
On the occasion of the Iraqi Press Day Festival (June 13, 2015), one year after Daesh occupied the city of Mosul, the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum [IWJF] organized a conference titled “Mobilizing Media and Public Opinion to Combat Violence Against Women and Girls”. The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative [ICSSI] also participated in organizing the event, which attracted a large turnout of intellectuals, journalists, lawyers, and other civil society activists, who all crowded into the “Oil Cultural Center” hall. Highlights of the event:
- More than 90 media and legal experts, and other civil society activists participated in the Shahrazad Campaign event.
- The Iraqi Women Journalists Forum praised the role that the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative is playing to oppose violence against women and girls.
- The Iraqi Social Forum emphasized the role of civil society, especially the activities of vital women’s organizations.
- Shahrazad Campaign partners agreed to pay greater attention to the tribal law “Fusliya” (settling conflicts between tribes by giving away women to marry men from the opposing tribe), an old tradition that has recently begun to be practiced again in parts of Iraqi society.
- Hanaa Edwar praised the Shahrazad campaign, “Narjis’ Diary”, and the role of the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum in promoting women’s rights.
- Awatif Naeem supported the Shahrazad campaign, commended the characters in the film, and expressed her admiration for the film’s powerful message.
- Nahida Al-Rammah condemned Daesh as an extension of Al-Baath and insisted that media and civil society must work together to combat violence against women.
- Hassan Abd Radhi congratulated the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum for its role in the Shahrazad Campaign saying: “There must be more productions of documentary films that present stories of violence against women”.
The conference began with a speech by IWJF President Nibras Al-Maamouri, in which she thanked all the members and supporters of the Shahrazad Campaign. She especially recognized the ICSSI, which has helped Iraqi women media activists to raise their voices and their concerns before the Italian Parliament and to the larger world community, by bringing their colleague, Suha Auda, to Rome for advocacy events. Al-Mamouri praised the role of the Campaign partners in Baghdad and the Kurdistan region, represented by the Iraqi Social Forum and Al-Mesallah Organization. She also thanked all friends of the Campaign, including the Iraqi Women Network, which gave IWJF and the Shahrazad Campaign a featured role in the opening ceremony of the Regional Forum held recently in Erbil, where participants from more than twenty countries came together to expose Daesh’s violence and its crimes against women. The president of IWJF also described the Shahrazad Campaign objectives and the issues that will be addressed, including sexual harassment and underage marriage.
In his presentation, Mr. Ali Saheb, the coordinator of the Iraqi Social Forum [ISF] emphasized the important role played by civil society and the activities that have been carried out by women’s organizations. The ISF has recently organized several campaigns, most importantly: the Baghdad Marathon, a campaign against Al-Jaafari Law, the Save the Tigris Campaign, and the Shahrazad Campaign that addresses all aspects of violence against women. Saheb stressed the role the ISF plays in raising awareness of important issues and mobilizing public opinion. The Forum uses social networking sites to educate the public about its work and to promote upcoming activities. In the near future, these activities will include the establishment of a camp to involve youth in activities to save the Tigris River and a Cultural Diversity Festival planned for September.
Video against Daesh
A documentary film titled “Narjis’ Diary” was screened during the conference. The film, which was produced by the IWJF in cooperation with the ICSSI as part of their partnership to promote the Shahrazad Campaign, deals with the conditions of women and girls in the city of Mosul following its occupation by Daesh gangs and how women journalists have responded to the terrorist forces.
The conference also included lectures given by Dr. Awatif Naeem and Dr. Hassan Abd Radhi, and interventions from the activist, Hanaa Edwar, and the prominent theater actor, Nahida Al-Rammah. All the speakers emphasized the crucial role that journalists can play at this stage of the struggle against Daesh, especially because when the terrorists began their attack on Iraqi cities they used media as a weapon in their battle. Speakers praised the film’s story and its principled and noble message, especially the outstanding actions of its main characters, Nada Talib and Noor Fakhir. Everyone stressed the importance and value of producing short films that depict the bitter reality of Daesh and tell stories that expose the terrorists’ crimes more broadly. All the attendees participated in a spirited discussion commending the film’s presentation of the realities women and girls have confronted following the occupation of Mosul by Daesh.
Many of intellectuals and activists present discussed “Narjis’ Diary”, including the Director of English language curriculum in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Malik Mohammed Jawda, the Director of the Center for Studies and Research in the Ministry of Culture, the poet, Dr. Saad Yassin Yusuf, the Chairperson of the Women’s Committee in the Municipality of Baghdad, Dr. Khawla, the artist and poet, Gharam Al-Rubaie, the media activist, Zainab Al-Kaabi, the lawyer Safaa Al-Lami, the artist Ban Abdul-Latif, the researcher Reem Turki, the activist Karam Al-Hadithi, and the former director of the Media in the Ministry of Tourism Affairs, AbdulZahra Al-Talqani. All praised the contribution made by the film.
The participants suggested that the Shahrazad Campaign should focus on revision of laws that address violence against women, calling for amendment of the Iraqi Penal Code. The Campaign should be active in all provinces of Iraq. It must pay greater attention to the issue of tribal “Fusliya” (settling conflicts between tribes by giving away women to marry men from the opposing tribe), an old tradition that has recently begun to be practiced again in parts of Iraqi society. This is especially important in light of the recent painful events that took place in Basra, when a conflict between two tribes was settled by giving 50 women to the other tribe.
They also suggested that is would be valuable to undertake studies and research, and to disseminate the results to decision-makers through seminars and other events. These events could highlight the roles of Iraqi women, their achievements and the challenges they now face. It will be importance to refine the definition of terms such as “violence against women” and “domestic violence” so that their meaning is not vague in ways that create legal loopholes that allow criminals to avoid punishment.
The conference also featured a display of posters designed by Campaign supporter, Yazan.
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