|The courthouse in Sulaymaniyah|
Saladin was a Kurdish warrior who lived in the 12th century and defeated the Christian armies in the second crusade, displacing them from their fortresses throughout the Holy Land. His most famous foe was Richard the Lionhearted. However, he permitted both Christians and Jews to practice their respective religions in Jerusalem and re-establish their religious communities in that city. In addition to being a warrior, he ruled an empire which included present day Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel. He remains a Kurdish hero. The Kurds continue to be known for their fierce warriors -- the peshmerga -- who fought along side the United States in the Iraqi war. However, Saladin also fought against the abuse of women. According to legend, he gave one of his soldiers a woman to marry. When he discovered the soldier was beating his wife, Saladin demanded her return saying that the Koran forbade mistreatment of women.
Unfortunately today, too many ignore the Koran's guidance on this point. Combating gender based violence has been a focus of Heartland Alliance in Iraq and this year Heartland released a report entitled, "Institutionalized Violence Against Women and Girls: Laws & Practices in Iraq." The report highlights legal, procedural and practical challenges facing victims of gender-based violence in the criminal justice system, as well as those seeking legal rights through the Personal Status Courts. The information and recommendations included in this report are based on real cases handled by Heartland working with its local NGO partners in the Kurdistan Regional Governate, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Basra. Please let me know if you would like a copy of the report and I will email it to you.
Saladin (who had a sister) would cetainly crusade against gender based violence if he were alive today.