Normalizing Abnormality: Violence Against Women in Iraq

Creative Commons License

Duva Kaya Ö.

in: Gender Equality and Social Cohesion in Iraq, Huriye Toker,Ayselin Yıldız, Editor, Yaşar University Publications, İzmir, pp.20-30, 2022

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Publisher: Yaşar University Publications
  • City: İzmir
  • Page Numbers: pp.20-30
  • Editors: Huriye Toker,Ayselin Yıldız, Editor
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


While violence can be categorized and defined in various ways, it can be roughly described as “harmful behavior to another person” that affects particular individuals and groups in different ways (WHO 2002, 5). The frequency of different kinds of violence varies across countries, but violence against women is both widespread and frequently condoned, making it a crucial area for understanding male dominance (Macionis and Plummer 2005, 314). Systematic violence, which has been going on for centuries and especially against women, is increased in situations like war, migration, and famine. While violence can affect all segments of society, those who have been historically subordinated are more seriously affected. That is, there is a common ground for violence across different geographies, cultures, and types. For example, those who are victims of sexism are highly affected by violence in society because the violence against them is normalized by cultural and religious values, traditions, and institutions. Although acts of violence against women are human rights violations that breach specific obligations of states under international law, it is hard to eliminate such violence because it is embedded within the cultural norms and traditions of many countries. Extreme levels of discrimination have finally made violence against women a public concern, which has forced many countries to provide non-violent living conditions. However, despite all the legal measures taken, it is not easy to achieve this goal. It is difficult for women to avoid certain types of violence since domestic, physical, and sexual violence are socially normalized and law enforcement officers take a masculine view of such acts in many countries. Combating violence against women entails first identifying it formally and then enforcing and implementing the laws appropriately. Police, judges and law enforcement officers, who mostly adopt and reflect the common norms of their society, do not have gender equality perspective to implement the laws. Thus, various studies into combatting domestic violence and workplace harassment have usefully focused on changing social structures and cultural norms of the society. Depending on different countries and cultures, it is known that women have been subjected to violence on a wide scale from discrimination of women in the workplace to honor killings; from domestic and psychological violence to pressures that result suicides. For this reason, it is necessary to analyze carefully the structure of the society in which violence occurs