Population size: 


Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

The Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) of 2006/7 found that one in five Iraqi women are subject to physical domestic violence. A 2012 Planning Ministry study found that at least 36 percent of married women reported experiencing some form of psychological abuse from their husbands, 23 percent verbal abuse, 6 percent physical violence, and 9 percent sexual violence.[2]

According to the UN, 46 percent of married women in Iraq have survived some form of abuse at home, of which a third report physical and sexual assault.[3]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

No research.

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

The head of Iraq's community police, Brigadier General Ghalib Atiyah, told journalists that its log of domestic violence cases has increased by an average of 30 percent since the curfew came into force – with some areas seeing as high as a 50-percent spike.[4], [5]

Current law and policy:

There is a lack of accountability mechanisms in place for perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence. The current draft Family Protection Law is designed to protect family as a whole rather than the victim. It prioritises reconciliation and mediation rather than justice for the abused victims which can put victims at further danger of being forced to return. The Iraq Penal Code no.111 of 1969 includes provisions on physical assault but lacks explicit reference to domestic violence. The Penal Code Article 14 – permits domestic violence allowing the punishment of a wife by her husband within certain limits prescribed by custom or law.

UN urges Iraqi Parliament to speed up the endorsement of the anti-domestic violence law. Alarming reports of a rise in gender-based and domestic violence cases, especially with increased household tensions due to COVID confinement. Reports of the rape of a woman with special needs, spousal abuse, immolation and self-immolation. Self-inflicted injuries due to spousal abuse, sexual harassment of minors and suicide due to DA. Calls upon authorities to ensure judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers, invest more in hotline and online services, support civil society organisations, keep shelter doors open and punish perpetrators. Asked to prioritise.[6]

Report on Human Rights in Iraq January to June 2017. UNAMI and UN Human Rights[7] sets out:

  • Page x/11 – no accountability mechanisms in place for perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence. Lack of movement in Council of Representatives to push through domestic violence legislation in accordance with international human rights standards and norms. 

  • Draft law remains stalled in Parliament and fails to offer long-term protection for victims, penalise offenders or establish obligations for police and prosecutors to respond to DOMESTIC VIOLENCE incidents. 

  • Page viii – calls for Kurdistan government to strengthen the capacity of police, judges and prosecutors to ensure cases of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE are handled in an appropriate and sensitive manner that prioritises victims' safety. 

  • Page 12 – current draft law ‘Family Protection Law’ is designed to protect the family as a whole rather than the victim of domestic violence. 

  • Iraq’s penal code no.111 of 1969 – includes provisions on physical assault but lacks explicit reference to domestic violence. Article 41 Penal Code – permits DOMESTIC VIOLENCE by allowing the punishment of a wife by her husband within certain limits prescribed by law or custom. 

Commentary on the draft law on domestic violence in Iraq, Human Rights Watch:[8]

  • One in five women are subject to physical domestic violence – Iraq Family Health Survey. 

  • Iraqi constitution expressly prohibits all forms of violence and abuse in the family but only the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has a law on domestic violence. 

  • Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (which Iraq ratified – 1986) considers violence against women a form of gender-based discrimination. Called on state parties to pass violence against women legislation. 

Human Rights Watch, domestic violence in Iraq, Commentary on the Draft Law on Anti-Domestic Violence in Iraq 2017:[9]

  • Page 3 – References only material or moral damage – UN recommends physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence be included in the definition. 

  • Page 4 – draft law defines domestic violence as within the family, that being a group of persons related to each other by matrimony or relatives till the fourth stage, in addition to those subject to custody or guardianship or curatorship. Does not include those in an intimate relationship who are not married. 

  • Article 1 of draft law refers to the crime of domestic violence but does not provide specific penalties. 

  • Page 7 – draft law prioritises reconciliation over protection and justice for abused victims. Fails to adequately protect victims, punish perpetrators and ensure access to proper redress. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE considered a private matter in Iraq. UN calls for mediation to be prohibited in all cases of violence against women, at all stages of legal proceedings. 

  • Page 8 – critical omission in not referring to police officers or outlining concrete duties for police officers in responding to cases of violence against women. Article 9 of draft law – may submit complaints. Need clarify that the responsibility for prosecuting domestic violence lies with prosecution authorities, not survivors, and set minimum standards for what prosecutors must communicate to survivors. 

  • Page 12 – not currently possible under draft law for victim testimony alone to be used as evidence to prosecute on. 

  • Page 13 – draft law provides for protection orders as a legal remedy but does not distinguish between short term emergency protection orders and longer-term orders. 

  • Page 14 – concern is the accessibility of competent authorities to issue timely protection orders. 

  • Page 19 – draft law commits authorities to set up shelters for domestic violence survivors.

Naji of the Women for Peace Organisation said there is no adequate system to be monitoring the potential escalation of domestic violence cases (in COVID) because they aren’t being reported.[10]

Frontline Services:



[1] The World Bank, (1).








[9] violence_formatted_memorandum_final_english.pdf


Further Reading


[2] - pages 11 12 


[4] violence_formatted_memorandum_final_english.pdf - pages 3 4 7 8 12 13 14 19