Every day, she turns up in court to defend women who have been abused. Meet Shahla Karim Hama—a woman who has devoted her life to women’s rights.
With about 150 legal consultations and 50-60 cases every year, the attorney at Pena Center for Combatting Violence Against Women certainly keeps busy. Shahla Karim Hama started working at the organisation ten years ago and has sought justice for women who have suffered from violence and abuse ever since.
Pena Center is one of Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations in Iraq. In 2005, they opened their first center in Kirkuk and they have since offered free support to survivors of gender-based violence.
As the legal representative, Shahla has a very active role and is present in all legal matters for the centre’s clients. This means having to deal with many violent men on the opposing side, who are angry and harass her.
“But I don’t care. They can say whatever they want—we are here to help women,” says Shahla and points out that women have the legal right to be safe.
Supporting survivors of violence through legal processes is hard work. The administrative burden when dealing with government authorities can make cases drag on. On workdays, Shahla splits her time between being at court, during court hours, and being at the centre where the organisation offers free legal advice.
“Many times, when women come to me, they discover that they have more rights than they knew of. So, one case often turns into several,” she explains.
Despite the long hours, Shahla enjoys her work.
“I am proud of it. It is a job that has respect for humanity and international human rights,” she says.
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 for Combatting Violence Against Women, to end all forms of violence against women and girls and strengthen economic gender equality. Read more about our work in Iraq.