Violence against women and girls, a scourge affecting several generations

GBV is the most widespread and least visible human rights violation in the world.

Anmar Rfaat
UNICEF Iraq/2021/Anmar
UNICEF Iraq/2021/Anmar
12 December 2021

Basra, 12 December 2021 - "Unfortunately, the society here is very patriarchal about violence against women, and the biggest problem is that in the case of beatings, women think that this is a man's right to exercise it over them, so women accept it and go to offload what they have been exposed to on their children,” describes with sadness Hind, a social worker in a women and girls center run by the NGO, PAO, in collaboration with UNICEF in Basra, Iraq. 

With support from the German Government, many women and adolescent girls receive support at the center and access safe information and services on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Sexual and Reproductive Health. 

Hind provides psychological and social support to these women and girls who come to the center and goes to their homes for monitoring and follow-up. For example, she works directly with victims of intimate partner violence by supporting them and providing information on GBV and available services. “Many psychological problems also affect children and are passed on from generation to generation. I consider this type of violence to be a persistent problem that is passed down through generations,” says Hind.

UNICEF Iraq/2021/Anmar
UNICEF Iraq/2021/Anmar
Hind, a social worker in a women and girls center in Basra, Iraq

GBV is the most widespread and least visible human rights violation in the world. It includes physical, sexual, mental, or economic harm inflicted on a person because of socially constructed power imbalances between males and females. It also includes the threat of violence, coercion and deprivation of liberty, whether in public or private space.

GBV takes numerous forms. Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking for sexual exploitation, female infanticide, and ‘honour’ crimes are common – with intimate partner violence occurring at staggering rates in every country. Girls and women may also experience GBV when they are deprived of nutrition and education.

In Iraq, about 1.32 million people (75% women and adolescent girls) are at risk of different forms of GBV, with 77 percent of GBV incidents linked to domestic violence, which has reportedly increased during COVID-19.1

Women and girls who survive GBV suffer long-term severe consequences for their physical and psychological health, and some of them are exposed to serious physical injuries and may lose their lives. Survivors are often blamed and ostracized by their families and communities.

UNICEF works in Iraq raising awareness against GBV and, in coordination with partners, provide psychosocial support and referrals for emergency medical care to women and girls.



For Every Women and Girl, Protection 



[1] As per the Iraq Humanitarian needs overview 2021