Tag Archives: justice

In pursuit of justice for women: new UN report

Last week the UN agency for women launched its first report.  Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice takes a brave and broad look at women’s access to around the world, covering issues such as domestic violence, rape and discrimination. 

The report also charts some of the important reforms that recent years have brought, but highlights the need for further progress.  For example while 52 countries have made marital rape a crime during the last century, more than 2.6 billion women still live in countries without this legal protection.

The report makes 10 recommendations to improve women’s access to justice, including support for specialised women’s services and legal organisations, reforming laws that discriminate against women, training judges in women’s rights and monitoring judicial decisions. 

Here in the UK, In Pursuit of Justice comes at an appropriate time.  The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Bill currently making its way through our parliament will limit access to justice for women who have faced domestic violence in several ways.

Firstly it will leave many women who have experienced domestic abuse unable to get legal aid for matters such as child custody or financial support.  This will mean that they will have to represent themselves, and could end up being cross examined by their abuser.  Inevitably it will mean that many women simply avoid the courts, to the detriment of them and their children.

Secondly, the Bill will also cut legal aid for women making applications under the ‘domestic violence rule’.  Under this rule women who come to the UK on a spousal visa but then face domestic violence can leave their marriage and apply for permission to stay in the UK in their own right.  Applications are complex and have to be completed within a very limited time frame. The woman also has to produce various pieces of evidence, all at a time when she is trying to get her life back together.

IKWRO usually links women with a legal aid solicitor to help them through the process.  If the reforms go ahead women will have to do the application on their own.  Strict controls on who can give immigration advice mean that organisations like IKWRO will not be able to advise these women without breaking the law.

IKWRO and many other women’s organisations took part in a recent Ministry of Justice consultation on the reform of legal aid but the Ministry of Justice has not listened.  We are campaigning for amendments to the bill before it is voted into law.  Last week we met with MP Bridget Phillipson to raise our concerns.  Bridget, who previously ran a women’s shelter, has promised to raise the issue in parliament.

We have also contacted conservative MPs who have shown commitment to fighting violence against women, including Eleanor Laing, Nicola Blackwood and Sarah Wollaston.  We are urging them to take action against these proposals and the impact they will have on access to justice for victims of domestic violence.

If you live in the UK you can support our campaign and protect access to justice for women who have faced domestic violence by emailing your MP.  See here for a template letter and simple instructions on how to contact your MP.

Please take two minutes to email your MP today.  Together we can stop these proposals.

Sham justice: On the trial of Saleh Hama Ali in Iraqi-Kurdistan

Press release 18 June 2009

Banaz Mahmod was gang-raped and killed in a brutal ‘honour’ killing in January 2006. Her father Mahmod Mahmod, her uncle Ari Mahmod and one of his associates are currently in prison for their part in the crime. However these men did not perpetrate their crime alone. The UK police have been trying to extradite two further suspects, Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain, who fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq back to the UK. These men must face the same system of justice that has put Ari and Mahmod Mahmod behind bars.

The Government of Iraq has agreed to extradite the two men. However, the Kurdistan Regional Government refuses to do so, preferring to hold a show trial of Mohammed Saleh Ali. IKWRO is concerned that this trial has little hope of achieving true justice. In many of the Kurdish regions murder and violence are still seen as legitimate methods of enforcing male dominance over women. Indeed Banaz Mahmod’s family has already withdrawn the case against Ali.

Just as in the case of Du’a Khalil Aswad, who died in an infamous public stoning in Bashiqa, we assert that the family has no right to decide whether or not the murderers go on trial. Banaz Mahmod and Du’a Khalil Aswad deserve justice, whatever decision their families make. Women deserve justice.

“We are calling on the Kurdish Regional Government to allow the United Kingdom to extradite Saleh Hama Ali, and to prevent Iraqi-Kurdistan from becoming a haven for so-called ‘honour’ killers -and a hell for women” said Diana Nammi, Director of IKWRO today. “We are calling for justice for Banaz. We ask all individuals and organisations to join their voice with ours in this campaign.”

Notes to editors:
The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) is a UK registered charity which provides advice and support to women and girls who face so-called ‘honour’ killings. Through our Justice for Banaz campaign IKWRO has highlighted police failings in dealing with Banaz before her death, and is calling for all those involved in her murder to be brought to justice.