At least five bombs ripped through apartment buildings across Baghdad today and another struck a market, killing 49 people and wounding more than 160, authorities said. Iraqi officials blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for the violence, the latest sign the country's fragile security is dissolving in the chaos of the unresolved election. It was the fourth set of attacks with multiple casualties across Iraq in five days, a spate of violence that has claimed more than 100 lives. Attacks have spiked as political leaders scramble to secure enough support to form a government after the 7 March elections failed to produce a clear winner.

Statement by Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Abroad Representative:  According to official sources at Ninawa Criminal Court, the four people charged with the stoning of Du'a Khalil Aswad on 7 April 2007 have been sentenced to death. The decision was made on 27 March, just three weeks before the third anniversary of Du'as murder. It is reported that two of the convicted men are Du'a's brothers. Du'a was stoned to death in front of almost 2,000 men; with Iraqi police maintaining "law and order" while the stoning took place. The authorities knew about the atrocity, but did not prevent it.

The UK government through its Border Agency has decided not to give priority to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, in exile in London. The application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel. This decision directly impacts not just on Ali but on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally.

Questions for Hibaaq Osman, founder and director of Karama: 1. How have efforts to implement the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) in the Arab region evolved since Beijing? Has this been satisfactory? Since the adoption of the BPFA, there has been considerable progress throughout the region in meeting international standards that reinforce gender equality. In particular, the civil society sector has expanded, proliferating local organizations whose mission it is to address key issues that have prevented governments and other authorities from enacting, implementing and enforcing laws that protect women from discrimination and violence. This NGO component had been largely missing and now acts to directly respond to the needs of the local community and communicate these to national and international authorities. In particular, a renewed focus on empowering women and increasing their role in decision-making has been demonstrated.

For women in Iraq, the coming national elections offer both a promise and a reminder of the difficulty of change in this male-dominated culture. The Constitution calls for at least 25 percent of Parliament’s seats to go to women. But the first women elected in 2005 have had little effect, analysts and women who are members of Parliament say. Now, as the campaign begins for the country’s second post-invasion parliamentary vote, on March 7, some women say a new female political class is starting to emerge. In one sign of this development, 12 women from outside the political system have formed their own party, with a platform built on women’s rights and a jobs program for Iraq’s more than 700,000 widows.

ضغطت قوى غربية على العراق يوم الثلاثاء(16 فبراير) لتطهير سجله في مجال حقوق الانسان بالتحقيق في مزاعم التعذيب ووقف قتل النساء في جرائم الشرف وإلغاء عقوبة الإعدام فضلا عن توفر آليات لحماية الاقليات الدينية والعرقية والنساء والمثليين. وكانت الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا وكندا وفرنسا والمانيا من بين الوفود التي نددت باستمرار الانتهاكات في العراق خلال مناقشة في مجلس حقوق الانسان التابع للأمم المتحدة. 

New survey reveals that majority of women in Kurdistan have undergone genital mutilation. Mariam Nadr, 77, has a fine home in an upscale neighbourhood of Erbil and is a prominent member of the community. She has a bright smile, a calm demeanour and wears the white shawl of a respected Kurdish matron. Part of Nadr’s social standing stems from her past: for many years mothers came to her to perform genital mutilations on their daughters. For these women, the act was a cultural and religious rite.

I.M.O.W. Global Council member Rajaa Khuzai argues that the hundreds of thousands of widows in Iraq must no longer be ignored, and that their economic contributions must be harnessed to help the war-torn country recover. Dr. Khuzai is a physician and former member of the Iraqi National Assembly. She is currently the President of the Iraqi Widows' Organization, a role which earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2004.

كشفت مديرية متابعة قضايا العنف ضد المرأة، التابعة لوزارة داخلية حكومة إقليم كردستان، «أن وتيرة العنف ضد المرأة شهدت خلال السنة المنصرمة انخفاضا ملحوظا، خصوصا الجرائم المرتكبة بدواعي الشرف مقارنة بعام 2008، مقابل ارتفاع نسبة الشكاوى المقدمة إلى المديرية بممارسة العنف الأسري ضد المرأة، وازدياد لافت في حالات التحرش الجنسي».

I was sitting in a majlis with a group of women when our chat on world affairs was interrupted by an urgent knock on the door; a knock that opened more than just a passage into the rest of the house. “We ran out of coffee!” I heard a male voice in distress telling the hostess as she opened the door just a tiny crack to see who it was. It was her husband, who was hosting a similar majlis in another corner of the house, with the husbands of the women here. The hostess went out to help him, leaving the door wide open to a room full of annoyed women. Several of them ran to the door to close it, because “there are men in the house”.

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