Many prominent Iraqi women activists refuse to run for the parliamentary elections scheduled for next October 10 or to participate in the entire political process due to fear of killing, kidnapping or threats targeting them or their family members.
Defamation, defamation and fabrication of charges on social media are among the things that worry and worry them. It does not stop at the electoral campaign period; Rather, fears increase after the election results and their ascension to the House of Representatives, where there is “sustainable corruption” and the dominance of some old deputies affiliated with large political parties, and the pressure they may exert on them in order to pass their political interests, says candidate Nour Nafeh Al-Jelhawi from the “Extension” party, who is One of the popular movement parties. Read also Al Jazeera Net interviews Hussein Al Hindawi, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s advisor for election affairs Al-Kazemi’s failure to run for the elections… Final withdrawal or just a political maneuver?It is headed by Al-Halbousi, Al-Khanjar and Al-Nujaifi.. These are the most prominent Sunni alliances in the Iraqi elections With the Iraqi elections approaching, sectarian quotas are back in their heads again
Al-Jalihawi points out that Iraqi society in some areas is still constrained by social norms that limit the movement of female candidates during the electoral education period. Especially in youth groups. The protest parties also suffer from the lack of funds to support the candidates, and they bear all the costs personally, considering that this is a great challenge for them to compete with the large parties that have “money and power.”
She continues, “The electoral battle is full of challenges and traps, but participation and trying is a national duty, and when we went out with demonstrations, we demanded early elections with the aim of changing the political process and reforming the situation as much as possible.”
The upcoming parliamentary elections are contested by 3,552 candidates, including 982 female candidates and 162 of them individually, while the 2018 elections witnessed the participation of 1983 female candidates, including 8 women heading electoral lists and alliances in various parts of Iraq. In the 2018 elections, women won 84 out of 329 seats in the House of Representatives, and some of them were elected outside the quota system (women’s quota), after they achieved high electoral votes, according to the data of the Independent High Electoral Commission.
waves of violence
As the polling season approaches, electoral violence rages in Iraq; Using social media as a platform for political misrepresentation and defamation of candidates – especially female candidates – by fabricating charges and spreading rumors, in an unfair competition that opponents use through their electronic flies to liquidate each other even if the price is a waste of lives.
Scandals and campaigns of slander and slander against any prominent woman participating in public life became; The most common method in Iraq, and even women who entered the political arena are subjected to violence, and the fears of activists and leaders multiply in specific periods; Such as demonstrations, unrest, elections, and so on, according to political researcher Lina Al-Moussawi.
Al-Moussawi believes that the political environment in Iraq is dangerous and doubles its danger for women. It can easily be accused of any accusation that could cause her family problems, she pays the price without guilt, so that she will be destined for social slander and murder without sin.
Al-Moussawi recalls the 2018 elections and the wave of major scandals that affected a number of female candidates, which had a great impact on the rest of the female candidates and these effects are still present, which made a large number of them withdraw before the start of the electoral campaigns and some of them canceled the idea of running for good.
Hate speech is generally defined as different types of public expression that spread, promote or justify hatred, discrimination or hostility against a person or group, says researcher in women’s affairs Faryal Al Kaabi.
Al-Kaabi adds that hate attacks often target active or prominent women in society in lengthy discussions that may last for days in the form of counter-campaigns in which thousands of people participate on social media, in which they use all prohibited methods according to the humanitarian, moral, religious and legal system.
In the absence of a legal system and professional charters that put an end to violations – especially when hate speech rages in conjunction with political crises, security incidents and specific occasions such as elections and others – most media of all kinds – unfortunately – played a contributing role in the growth of hate speech that threatens peaceful coexistence and social security and causes The occurrence of acts of violence and crimes against marginalized groups, most notably “women”, although some statements may not directly incite violence; It contributes to spreading the seeds of intolerance and anger that leads to legitimizing acts of hate, as Al-Kaabi points out.
crimes under the law
Iraqi courts receive dozens of cases of defamation and defamation every day; due to misuse of social media.
Lawyer Ali Al-Zubaidi said that the Discriminatory Commission in the Rusafa Court of Appeal in Baghdad considered Facebook as one of the media, and accordingly the laws regulating the work of other media apply to it, and the transgression through its platform “necessitated punishment and contempt for the complainant in the social and professional environment, and therefore I decided to ratify the verdict of conviction.” It was considered an aggravating circumstance.”
Salam Al-Waeli from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems says that after the widespread misinformation attacks that occurred during the 2018 legislative elections that targeted some candidates – especially women – the International Foundation for Electoral Systems gave priority to this topic, and decided to work to raise awareness about the importance of identifying and discovering such problematic content In order to provide and provide a safe and healthy electoral environment in order to encourage equal participation of all social components in the upcoming Iraqi elections.
There are continuous efforts by the coalition of UN Resolution No. (1325) concerned with the agenda of women, security and peace in Iraq, and it is now working on preparing a strategic plan for advocacy to support women’s political participation by mobilizing media and youth efforts to promote the active participation of women in decision-making positions, according to the representative of the coalition. Mona Hilali.
Some clans entered the line to confront defamation, threats and abuse through social media by imposing a “financial penalty” for the offending party to ensure the achievement of civil peace, provided that this takes place under the auspices of the local police, according to the Director of Clan Affairs, Brigadier General Ali Al-Rubaie, who vowed to apply the penalty to all The offender specified the punishment with a sum of money ranging between 25 and 50 million Iraqi dinars, equivalent to 17 to 33 thousand dollars, considering this type of crime “bigger” than the crime of murder.
repair and awareness
Al-Moussawi believes that ending violence against women involved in the political process is very difficult and requires a long time and continuous support from politicians; This is by giving them more room to ensure their access to decision-making positions in institutions, and this is an incentive for others and makes the presence of women in leadership a habit of society.
Al-Hilali points out that the parties’ support for and protection of their candidates is an important step in curbing the wave of violence against them. In addition, the importance of joint cooperation between parties, non-governmental organizations and law enforcement agencies, and activating monitoring and safe reporting mechanisms for women candidates in particular.
On the other hand, Al-Zubaidi points out that the great responsibility lies with the government authorities by implementing policies related to non-discrimination and integrating gender and human rights in an appropriate manner, and that the government protects its members from the danger of incitement and hatred by reforming the legislative system, especially amending articles related to publishing issues We also need to legislate a law against cybercrime in line with the constitution, with an emphasis on not violating public and private freedoms.
For her part, Al Kaabi stresses the importance of educating female candidates about digital security and personal safety procedures during the coming period to preserve their lives from risks and threats, in addition to the importance of educating the community about legal responsibility when the wrong use of social media.