Iraqi Refugees: Women’s Rights and Security Critical to Returns

The Iraqi refugee crisis is far from over and recent violence is creating further displacement. Iraqi women will resist returning home, even if conditions improve in Iraq, if there is no focus on securing their rights as women and assuring their personal security and their families’ well being.

Not one displaced woman interviewed by Refugees International indicated her intention to return home. Some women said they won’t return because they are members of targeted minority groups, or because of injuries they suffered. Many widows told RI that they fear returning to homes where their husbands were killed, and where they now have no means of economic survival. Some fear rising conservatism would restrict their ability to participate in civic and professional life. Women seeking to resume their former roles and lifestyles in high profile professions, such as journalists or doctors, believe current circumstances in Iraq put them at risk. Others feared they were at risk of so-called “honor killings” by family members because they refused marriages, had divorced, or were accused of prostitution.