Awaz saw no way out of the sexual violence. She thought about ending her own life. That’s when a relative reached out and said: “There is someone you can call”.
“I thought I wouldn’t survive. I was just thinking about how to die. Honour issues in our society is like crossing a red line.”
There’s currently a power cut. Awaz* turns towards the window, the only source of light in the room. She takes a deep breath before she continues.
“No one knows the extent of the pain I’ve felt. I was a woman of high reputation among my colleagues and in my family. Overnight, I felt I lost everything,” says Awaz.
Awaz had met a man she fell in love with and trusted. A man who ended up blackmailing her.
“He threatened to post naked pictures of me on social media if I didn’t send him US 10,000. I didn’t see any way out of it,” says Awaz.
The police thinks that the man must have secretly taken photos and video clips via an online application, where he and Awaz used to have video calls.
“I thought about ending my own life, several times. I was sure such a scandal would be the end of my life. But then I received a phone call from one of my relatives and he said ‘There is someone who can help you’ and gave me the number to Pena Center,” says Awaz.
Pena Centre for Combatting Violence Against Women is one of Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations in Iraq. In 2005, they opened their first centre in Kirkuk and they offer support to survivors of gender-based violence.
“I didn’t wait a second to call them, even though it was 10pm. I have so much respect for the work they do. From the moment I called, I felt that they were going to be my rescue. I could finally sleep that night,” says Awaz.
Awaz has continued to receive emotional and legal support from Pena Center. Her case will remain open at Pena Center for the duration of the lengthy legal processes.
“I owe them my life. If this centre didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story, someone else would have had to,” says Awaz.
*Awaz wants to remain anonymous. We’ve therefore replaced her real name.
Kvinna till Kvinna has worked for women’s rights in Iraq since 2005 and we have an office in Erbil. We support and work with several local partner organisations, including Pena Center to Combat Violence Against Women, to end all forms of violence against women and girls and support survivors. Read more about our work in Iraq.