She survived violence at a young age. Awezan Noori Hakeem is a women human rights defender who has decided to devote her life to helping other victims.
When she was only 16 years old, Awezan Noori Hakeem was forced to marry one of her relatives. It was a violent relationship. To escape, Awezan had to return to her parents’ home, where she—together with her daughter—stayed for seven years.
Awezan decided to devote her life to supporting other women and girls who’ve experienced violence.
“Life is not easy for women in this country and we have no choice but to fight for our rights and the rights of other women,” she explains.
She’s currently the vice president of the women’s rights organisation Pena Center, which is one of Kvinna till Kvinna’s partners in Iraq.
“We can empower women and teach them about their rights in order to reduce and eliminate the oppression of women,” she continues.
Working for women’s rights in Iraq is not without risks.
“We have many enemies that are fundamentalists, and some extremists, that are against women’s rights and our freedom. We face a lot of difficulties,” says Awezan.
The international solidarity and support mean a lot.
“Without the aid of donors, we would not be able to help persecuted women and implement justice for the accused and rapists,” says Awezan. “We need all the support we can get, because there are many more women waiting for our assistance.”
Having first-hand experience of violence affects how Awezan views her work.
“I’ve learned a lot from my past. I feel the pain of the women and girls we meet. It’s natural for me to do everything I can. I did not get the help I needed at the time, when I was only a little girl and was forced to be married. I know how wonderful it feels to have someone looking out for you.”
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 support survivors. Read more about our work in Iraq.