Women WorldWide: May-June 2023

May 15, 2023

From the May-June 2023 issue of News & Letters

‘Honor killings’ and domestic violence increase worldwide

by Artemis

End gender-based violence. Photo: UNFPA Iraq UNFPA Iraq.

Last fall, The Embrace Clinic for victims of recent interpersonal violence in Surrey, B.C. Canada, opened a specialty clinic. The Strangulation Clinic opened because nurses were receiving more reports of this form of violence since they began documenting it in 2014. It’s under-reported and increasingly normalized due to its prevalence in online pornography. It’s a leading indicator of escalating future violence, with victims, primarily women, at seven times the risk of being killed by the abuser. Services include a full head and neck exam to assess injuries and blood vessel damage, sleep management strategies, and counseling. Both strangulation and blows to the head can cause persistent headaches, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating and sleeping as well as long-term disorders like dementia.


In February, scores of Iraqi women and male allies demonstrated in front of the Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad demanding a strict law to deal with increasing domestic violence and so-called “honor killings.” It was organized over social media after the Jan. 31 murder of YouTube personality Tibia Al-Ali by her father over her decision to live in Turkey with her fiancé. According to official statistics, one out of five Iraqi women is subjected to violence by relatives. Ala Talabani, a senior Iraqi parliament legislator, stated, “women in our societies are hostage to backward customs due to the absence of legal deterrence and government measures.” The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq asked for the amendment of penal code articles 41 and 409, currently allowing men to “discipline” wives and treating murder and violence differently when committed by family members.


Over the past several months, there has been an explosion of femicides in several countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, and Sudan. Experts on violence against women say that economic crisis and war have been factors in increasing domestic violence and “honor killings.” Both are also committed by violent men angered when their control over women is threatened by increasing social freedom and by technology and media connecting women with other people. In Pakistan, feminist activist Maliha Saeed says government “has to empower women economically and socially. Government should instruct the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to spread the message against honor killings through news channels, dramas. It should discourage violence against women.” Syrian feminist Limar Ibrahim stated, “Feminist ideas should be spread in society. This education must start early in schools.”

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