Our teams continue to grow and expand Wadi’s ‘No to Violence’ campaign in 2018. By engaging parents, school staff and children in conversation directly and through media our teams are working hard to end violence against children in schools and the home.
In 2018 Wadi’s unique ‘No to Violence’ campaign continues to gain momentum and grow. The campaign’s main goal is to end violence against children in schools and in the home in Iraqi Kurdistan. The campaign was launched in autumn 2017, and as of now 5 schools have signed a pact ending all forms of violence within their walls. Schools that sign on to the campaign receive receive anti-violence training and extensive support. Parents are also included in non-violence and conflict resolution training sessions. In conversations and events with the children, they are encouraged to stand up for their rights, learn how to behave in the event of abuses, and where to report abuses.
Children report humiliating and violent punishments as an everyday educational tool in schools. Practically every student Wadi interviewed knows a child who is beaten or abused at home.
Central to the ‘No to Violence’ campaign is the idea of ‘self ownership’. The commonly held view that children are their parents’ property -having no say in their lives- and should only do as they are told, is a big part of why violence is so common. This view can change. The ‘No to Violence’ campaign is working to do just that, by engaging people in conversation through media and directly through our Mobile Teams seminars. These seminars are also giving participants the emotional and verbal tools to work on these issues without letting anger and the pattern of violence dominate. Self ownership for children can simply be the radical idea that their bodies belong to them, no one has the right to beat them, not even their parents and certainly not their teachers.
The context of violence, in Iraqi Kurdistan cuts across generations. Since the late 1970s, Saddam Hussein’s Baath government waged a cruel war against the Kurdish people in the north of the country, in the systematic destruction of towns and villages, the deportation and forced eviction of hundreds of thousands of people, and the widespread use of chemical weapons against the civilian population. More recently the area has been fighting the so called ‘Islamic State’ whose brutal violence has left few families untouched.
As the campaign expands and is introduced to more regions as part of our Mobile Teams work, something amazing has happened. Each region has decided not only to participate but to take ownership of the campaign. While all the regions are making ending violence against children in schools a main goal, each has also taken a second goal that fits with the deeply rooted issues specific to their area. Each place has a distinct history with specific realities of violence, and as a result a one size fits all approach doesn’t make sense.
Garmyain: The campaign began here in autumn 2017, and the 5 ‘violence free schools’ are all in Garmyain. This area was particularly hard hit by the Iraqi Army during the Anfal Campaign, today it is also home to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from central Iraq who fled the violence of the ‘Islamic State’. Here the ‘No to Violence’ campaign will also focus on the issue of child marriage; a serious problem in the area.
Raniya: Has chosen to focus on including kindergartens, violence against children often begins even before children reach school, our teams have decided to work with 4 kindergartens as a starting point. Raniya is a conservative area where openly speaking about such issues is not the norm. Our teams feel strongly based on their interactions and work there that the issue of violence must be addressed with kindergarten staff and teachers as a gateway for parents to receive education and to understand that children are not their property. FGM and child marriage will also be addressed.
Halabja: Was severely target by chemical weapons during the Anfal Campaign. The people, and the landscape continue to bear the scars. As such Halabja has chosen to include the environment, and ending human’s poor behavior towards nature, as a main goal. This year in joint commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Chemical attacks on Halabja and the 5th anniversary of the chemical attacks in the Ghouta, Syria; people are coming together to condemn the attaks, focus on integrating IDPs and refugees, and on the short and long term impacts of chemical weapons. Planting trees, stopping littering, and improving green public spaces are planned activities as a way to create living memorials, and engage the community on Non Violence.
Dohuk: Dohuk, which is a short drive from Mosul, is now home to thousands of Yazidi refugees, Syrian refugees and Iraqi IDPs, all seeking safety from ISIS. Our teams in Dohuk are in the process of beginning their campaign activities, they plan to include schools which are part of their program to support Syrian refugees into the ‘No to Violence’ campaign. The focus of our teams in Dohuk is on survivors of ISIS violence, especially Yazidi women (and others) who were victims of human trafficking, and modern day slavery.
The ‘No to Violence’ Campaign is currently supported by Salt Foundation, Roselo Foundation, and the Green Cross. Please consider donating to support the ‘No to Violence’ Campaign today.