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Last updated: January 2021

This subsection refers to women who are considered to work in the public sphere in Iraq and KRI, such as a position as a candidate in elections, a position in healthcare, in NGOs, in media, in the transportation sector or in entertainment.

COI summary

[Targeting, 3.5.7; Actors of protection, 3.2, 3.4, 3.6]

The Council of Representatives allocates 25 % of the seats to women, whereas KRG’s regional legislative assembly allocates 30 % of the seats to women.

Over 2 000 female candidates ran in the 2018 election. During the campaign for the parliamentary elections, posters of female candidates were vandalised and photographs allegedly showing candidates wearing revealing clothing were posted online. Some women candidates withdrew due to threats and intimidation. Women candidates gained 84 seats in the 2018 parliament following the national elections.

Sources report that the targeting of well-known women in Iraq has increased significantly. In August – September 2018, a number of prominent women were murdered in Iraq. One victim was a former beauty queen popular on social media (killed in Baghdad), another victim was a women’s rights activist (killed in Basrah). Two other victims worked in beauty parlours. For many people in Iraq the only acceptable jobs for women are in certain home-related sectors or government departments. Women and girls who work in shops, cafes, entertainment, nursing or the transportation sector (taxi/truck drivers) are frowned upon.

Risk analysis

The acts to which women in public roles could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. violence and killings).

Not all women working in the public sphere would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: area of origin, conservative environment, visibility of the applicant (e.g. nature of the work, public statements perceived negatively by the actor of persecution), perception of traditional gender roles by the family or network, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion and/or for reasons of religion. Additionally, persecution of women who work in jobs perceived as not acceptable based on traditional gender roles may be for reasons of membership of a particular social group due to a common background (past professional experience) and their distinct identity in the surrounding society.

See also the profile Individuals perceived to transgress moral codes.