16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that starts off on the 25th of November until the 10th of December. During this yearly campaign, multiple activities take place around the world to raise awareness among people on how to end Gender-Based Violence.
As an NGO that supports equality, IraQueer stands with all the feminists out there who fight daily to break the cycle of silence. The point is to clarify that harm, in all of its shapes and forms whether it was physical, psychological, or sexual, is not allowed to be practiced, regardless of the gender identity and/or sexual orientation of the person. Even though 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence is observed globally, queer people are often excluded from the picture. Gender-Based Violence is not just violence against women, but it is any violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The importance of this yearly campaign is manifested in supporting our community to destroy the harmful social norms that chain its members and constrain their behaviors.
For this year’s campaign, IraQueer shed light on the lifesaving work that some Iraqi feminists conduct to protect human rights and gender equality. In this guest interview, IraQueer shares the voice of Shokhan Hama Rashid, a Kurdish Iraqi activist who works for WOLA organization, to talk about her experience and share her advice:
Can you give us an introduction about yourself?
I am Shokhan Hama Rasheed Ahmed. I am consultant lawyer and I have been working for years as a lawyer and a trainer in gender issues and women’s right advocacy.
How long have you been working for Gender-Based Violence (GBV)?
I have been working for GBV cases for 15 years now and I have multiple international and regional certificates in training, case management and international law.
What inspired you to become an activist?
Inequality, injustice, women’s rights violation and lack of awareness in society were all reasons that drove me to become an activist.
Who are the people you help? Are they women only? Do they include LGBT+?
We can say it’s a combination of all since I work to help women, marginalized groups and those with special needs.
Are things improving or becoming worse? Do you have hope?
Unfortunately, things are becoming worse every day. But this does not stop us from being hopeful. We will continue our work until we make change.
Have you received any threats or experienced danger due to your work? If yes, tell us about it.
Of course. We face threats on a daily basis, whether face to face, on the phone or through messages. I have been threatened in front of the judge numerous times for helping women and we have also received death threats.
What is your message to all Iraqi activists?
My message to Iraqi activists is to continue advocating for all marginalized groups, spread awareness and protect women. I ask them not to let any obstacle hinder them as a large number of people need our help.