Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
This campaign for the elimination of violence against women is a social, political and civil duty for us all; whatever our posts are, whatever aspect of life we operate in, we should all combat this plague.
Before speaking as Prime Minister, I would like to say that as a citizen of this Region, and a human being, I think that without dealing with the issues of gender discrimination in our society, our other efforts to resolve the economic, political, and governance issues will not be viable.
As Prime Minister, I deem it as my duty, as well as the duty of all my colleagues in the KRG, to focus our efforts towards achieving equality between men and women and eliminating domination and violence against women. These women are our mothers, sisters, wives, family and relatives. They are a key segment of the society. Due to backwardness and outdated traditions, however, they have so far been deprived of real opportunities to live their potential. They have not been encouraged to show their full potential and contribute to the process of development. Although they have always been active participants in the strife for freedom, they were not given the chance to show their abilities in governance and contribute to the progress for many reasons, including social backwardness, the society's male dominant traditions, and the reactionary mentality of the society.
Therefore, the establishment of the Supreme Council for Women and legislating a special law to eliminate violence against women are two crucial steps taken by the KRG and the Kurdistan Region Parliament in this regard.
This Supreme Council for Women, as a KRG entity, will have the mission of promoting women's role and participation in politics and governance. The aim behind establishing such a council is for the government and all its different departments to address the issues of women's political, economic, and social situations with a unified discourse and a planned mechanism. We do not want the government's efforts to be confined in on ministry; therefore creating such a council will pave the road for all ministries to defend the rights and demands of women. Unfortunately, due to some setbacks, the Council has not started functioning yet, but I would like to announce here that it soon will. We have nominated Ms. Pakhshan Zangana for the position of the Council's Secretary General and have asked her to consult with different organizations to identify other members for the Council. We hope that this Council will play a serious role in reducing violence against women, eliminating gender discrimination, promoting health care for women, strengthening their potential, encouraging them to actively participate in the social transition, deepening civic practices and promoting equality in the Kurdish society.
Distinguished ladies and guests,
Though violence against women is basically a cultural, social, and economic phenomenon, it has also shifted to the political and legal arenas. Therefore, it is the duty of the government and its institutions to combat this issue. Although setting a quota for women, allocating a number of government and judiciary positions for women, and their success in achieving leadership positions within the political parties are considered a major achievement, we encourage the Kurdistan Region Parliament to always consider the issue of equality between men and women when passing the laws as well as solidifying their rights in the Kurdistan Region's Constitution. We in the Kurdistan Regional Government find it our duty to also be in the front row in protecting the women's rights.
Honor killing is a major crime against the laws and the values of humanity and of Islam. Amending the laws and considering honor-based killing as a deliberate killing was a key step in facing these crimes. However, due to lack of understanding, illiteracy and reactionary culture, these crimes are unfortunately still committed. They are even committed in Europe and continue to defame the Kurdish communities there. A painful reminder of this hideous phenomenon was that of last week's murder of Jian in Sweden.
As per the polls conducted by the General Directorate for Violence Against Women, in the first six months of 2010, 59 cases of killing, 239 burning, 671 torturing, 63 sexual violence and 1028 complaints of general violence against women were recorded in the Kurdistan Region. For the KRG, these polls are worrying, but we will continue our serious efforts to reduce and eliminate these cases within legal and institutional frameworks.
Female circumcision, of Female Genital Mutilation, by all measures is the legacy of backwardness and violates basic human rights and the principles of Islam. Although there are conflicting figures provided by different agencies, the KRG Ministry of Health's statistics show that this phenomenon is still common in Erbil and Suleimaniyah, but not found in Dohuk. However, we cannot remain silent. These polls indicate that in comparison with pre-1991, the rate of female circumcision is somewhat reduced, yet it is still rampant and is truly worrying and I dare say shameful. Therefore, all of us, government and parliament, should work together to ban female circumcision by law. The religious scholars should also play their role in this regard. The stances of Professor Ali Qaradaghi and Dr. Mustafa Zalmi are worth appreciation.
Here I think it is necessary to point out the principles of the KRG as regards women's rights, which are based upon the basic human rights, promoting freedom, establishing security and stability for women and protecting them in accordance with the law, eradicating gender discrimination, providing proper health care, and banning all kinds of torture and inhumane treatment.
The KRG encourages the ratification of the draft law for eliminating domestic violence and we hope that the Parliament will pass it soon. We also reiterate our support to the implementation of the global announcement of human rights, and other international agreements related to women's rights.
On this day, I applaud the women's organizations and other civil society organizations in the Kurdistan Region for defending women's rights. I call upon them to pursue joint efforts and to work with the government to promote justice and equality.
I also call upon the journalists, writers, intellectuals, artists, thinkers, school teachers, university professors, religious scholars and all other segments of society to do their best in eliminating violence against women and ensuring a better future for the people of Kurdistan.
In conclusion, I am hopeful that the campaign for the elimination of domestic violence in general and violence against women in particular will be successful and I urge everyone to be supportive of this important initiative.