Human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan

Human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan refer to the human rights issue in the autonomous area of Iraqi Kurdistan, which is under the jurisdiction of Kurdistan Regional Government since 1992.


Human Rights Watch reported that journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan who criticize the regional government have faced substantial violence, threats, and lawsuits in recent months, and some have fled the country.[1] Recently many journalists faced trial by political figures because of their reports and threatening to jail them if continue doing reports about the corruption in the Region.

Violence against women

Prevalence of female genital mutilation in Iraq for women aged 15–49 using UNICEF "Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, 2013, from . There is a more recent 2016 survey here: . Green = Less than 3%, Blue = 15-25%, Red = Above 50%. The highest prevalence rates of FGM are in Kirkuk (20%), Sulaymaniyah (54%) and Erbil (58%).

Human Rights Watch reported that female genital cutting is practiced mainly by Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, reportedly 60% percent of Kurdish women population have undergone this procedure, although the KRG claimed that the figures are exaggerated. Girls and women receive conflicting and inaccurate messages from public officials on its consequences.[2] The Kurdistan parliament in 2008 passed a draft law outlawing the practice, but the ministerial decree necessary to implement it, expected in February 2009, was cancelled.[3] As reported to the Centre for Islamic Pluralism by the non-governmental organization Stop FGM in Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, on 25 November, officially admitted the wide prevalence in the territory of female genital mutilation (FGM). Recognition by the KRG of the frequency of this custom among Kurds came during a conference program commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.[4] On 27 November 2010, the Kurdish government officially admitted to violence against women in Kurdistan and began taking serious measures.[5] 21 June 2011 The Family Violence Bill was approved by the Kurdistan Parliament, it includes several provisions criminalizing the practice.[6]

Religious tolerance in Kurdistan

British lawmaker Robert Halfon sees Kurdistan as a more progressive Muslim region than the other Muslim countries in the Middle East.[7] The region has populations of Assyrian Christians, Yazidi, Yarsan, Mandean and Shabak faiths.

Minority rights in Kurdistan

Although the Kurdish regional parliament has officially recognised other minorities such as Assyrians, Turkmen, Arabs, Armenians, Mandeans, Shabaks and Yezidis, there have been multiple accusations of attempts to "kurdify" them. The Assyrians have reported Kurdish officials reluctance in rebuilding Assyrian villages in their region while constructing more settlements for the Kurds affected during the Anfal campaign.[8] After his visit to the region, the Dutch politician Joël Voordewind noted that the positions reserved for minorities in the Kurdish parliament were appointed by Kurds as the Assyrians for example had no possibility to nominate their own candidates.[9]

The Kurdish regional government has been accused of trying to kurdify other regions such as the Assyrian Nineveh plains and Kirkuk by providing financial support for Kurds who want to settle in those areas.[10][11]

LGBT rights

If Iraqi Kurdistan follows the same penal code as the rest of Iraq, then homosexuality and transgenderism are not, per se, illegal. However, public discussion of LGBT rights has not begun on Kurdistan due to traditional tribal and religious values. Education about sexual orientation and gender identity issues is fairly limited in Kurdistan, and same-sex sexuality and non-traditional gender roles are generally look upon as a sign of foreign decadence and immorality.

In 2010, it was reported that passing of a new law in Iraqi Kurdistan, guaranteeing “gender equality”, has deeply outraged the local religious community, including the minister of endowments and religious affairs and prominent imams, who interpreted the phrase as "legitimizing homosexuality in Kurdistan".[12] Kamil Haji Ali, the minister of endowments and religious affairs, said in this regard that the new law would “spread immorality” and “distort” Kurdish society.[12] Following an outrage of religious movements, the KRG held a press conference, where the public were ensured that gender equality did not include giving marriage rights to homosexuals, whose existence is effectively invisible in Iraq due to restrictive traditional rules.[12] The Kurdistan government also said no marriages, other than those permitted by official religions in Kurdistan, were allowed by law.[12]

See also


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