16 Days: Tackling triggers of intimate partner violence in Iraq

During 16 Days of Activism, we speak to couples from Diyala about breaking cycles of violence.

December 6, 2022

In Iraq, over 1.32 million people are at risk of gender-based violence. Of which, over 75 percent are women and girls and around 77 percent are linked to domestic violence.[1] This often goes unreported due to the impunity, stigma and shame surrounding it. Therefore, gender-based violence, in any form, stands in the way of achieving equality, sustainable development and lasting peace.

At UNDP, we work closely with couples to reduce intimate partner violence and address its triggers. During 16 Days of Activism, we speak to couples from Diyala about how this has helped them identify and break the cycles of violence.

Ibrahim and Ban during the training in Baquba, Diyala. Photo: UNDP Iraq

"The training helped us understand the different forms of violence and their lasting impact on women's lives. We want to spread the word within our community that any form of violence will never be tolerated," says Ibrahim and Ban, who got married nine years ago. The training also included sessions on addressing power imbalances and building ways to manage triggers. The curriculum evolved from recognizing stages of change to changing our attitudes.

According to Ibrahim and Ban, it is essential to identify intimate partner violence and take action to prevent it. They are convinced that such training sessions will help reduce violence in families.

Mujtaba and Sura from Diyala. Photo: UNDP Iraq

While the newlywed couple, Mujtaba and Sura, found the take-home exercises well-designed. "It helped us foster a process of change to reduce gender-based violence.” During the training, they explored practical solutions to address generational conditioning and triggers. “In fact, this has changed the way we look at our own relationships. It has created a safe space between us for open and honest dialogue,” the couple adds.

The project also includes a component for training community leaders on reducing gender-based violence to shift mindsets between couples and at the community level.

Since 2021, 54 couples and 76 community leaders have been trained in Anbar and Diyala. 

On the role of community leaders in tackling gender-based violence, Colonel Younes says, "We have learnt to tackle cases by protecting confidentially and reducing unconscious biases. As community leaders, we are equally responsible for shifting mindsets and attitudes towards women. We can help destigmatize and end impunity." Younes is a member of the community police in Baquba, Diyala.

[1] Iraq Humanitarian needs overview 2021


The project is being implemented through UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization with support from Canada and Denmark. The couples were selected from a livelihoods skilling project they had participated in through the Facility. The curriculum is drawn from 'Indashyikirwa', a programme led by UNDP globally that aims to reduce intimate partner violence and shift related attitudes, behaviours and social norms.