Al-Mesalla Organization in Erbil – Iraqi Kurdistan, April 2016
Advocacy Meeting With Baharka Camp Management
Activists of the Shahrazad Campaign in the last months registered cases of harassment in several camps in Kurdistan Region for internally displaced people (IDPs), and the local NGO Al-Mesalla decided to organize several meetings with other NGOs to discuss how to combat this phenomenon. Since December 2015, with a growing advocacy effort, the staff of Al-Mesalla met with the management of Bahraka camp, one of the locations where women and girls suffer most for cases of harassment. The camp is located near Erbil city, and inhabited by more than 5000 IDPs originally from Mosul and Anbar provinces, from different ethnic groups and religions.
Imtinan Jalil, Shahrazad campaign coordinator for Al-Mesalla, discussed with the manager of Baharka camp about the cases of harassment inside the camp and the importance to cooperate together in order to combat this phenomenon. Imtinan presented a detailed explanation about Shahrazad campaign and its activities in Kurdistan region, and the necessity to start combating the phenomenon of harassment inside IDP camps and beyond. Despite the sensitivity of the topic of sexual harassment in particular, and the topic of violence against woman inside camps in general, the Director of Baharka Center expressed his understanding and willingness to cooperate to combat this phenomenon, and agreed with the campaign to start with the following steps:
- Assign a responsible person of the camp the task to monitor the cases of harassment happening and inform the administration of the camp or the authorities according to the level of harassment or the violence recorded.
- The camp management and the police will take their part in investigating the cases of harassment and alert the harasser at first then if he continue with the harassment he will be punished under the law.
- The administration of the camp will continue to cooperate with Al-Mesalla organization and Shahrazad campaign in order to stand against harassment.
This agreement is a good step ahead in the cooperation between the civil society organization and the camp management to observe this phenomenon and reduce it. Both parties agreed to continue the meetings in the framework of cooperation.
Discussion in a Radio Show about Sexual Harassment in Erbil
“It is not a shame to talk about the existence of the phenomenon of harassment in Erbil province in the Kurdistan Region, the shame is that we stand idly by and do not cooperate in order to reduce this phenomenon, through the study and understanding of its roots, and thus develop social and legal solutions”. This is the message the coordinator of Shahrazad campaign brought on air in Erbil, in an interview with “Babylon FM” radio, an Iraqi radio broadcasting in English. In the “Breakfast Club” program she had the chance to describe the most important actions taken by Shahrazad campaign to address the phenomenon of harassment, that could be replicated widely.
The program attracted attention of young people in the Kurdistan Region, since it is very rare for radio programs that broadcast on television to deal frankly with the phenomenon of harassment of women and girls in Kurdistan. This is still considered a social “taboo” that cannot be taken to a community discussion, especially in debates among young people, but Shahrazad Campaign keeps challenging this attitude.
To listen to this radio interview, Click here
Celebrating the International Women’s Day
On International Women’s Day, Shahrazad campaign activists visited “Behrmend center”, and contributed to the festive events of the center in the occasion of International Women’s Day. Behrmend is a non governmental center managed by Al-Mesalla in Erbil, where the staff offers psychological and social counseling for women and life skill courses such as sewing, languages, computer skills and salon courses. The center also offers legal advice and services to women and refer some cases to court to protect women rights.
The coordinator of Shahrazad campaign in Erbil discussed with the management of the center and with women and girls about the activities of the campaign against harassment. Discussion included the exchange of views on the concept of harassment, and the ways of improve cooperation among women and men, NGOs and institutions, to fight sexual harassment. After that, brochures and publications on the campaign were distributed to women who expressed their interest and willingness to cooperate with the campaign.
To see the posters produced on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, Click Here.