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Cablegate: Eprt East-Baghdad: Legal Assistance Center

VZCZCXYZ0027
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #0449/01 0501355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH(CCY-ADX26B7E9-WSC7771-468)
R 191355Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6722

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 000449

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDED TAGS)

SIPDIS

NEA/I PASS TO S/GWI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI KDEM
SUBJECT: EPRT EAST-BAGHDAD: LEGAL ASSISTANCE CENTER
ADDRESSES WOMEN,S ISSUES IN SOUTHEASTERN BAGHDAD

This is an ePRT Baghdad East cable.

1. (U) SUMMARY: Zafraniyyah is a sometimes violent, mixed
semi-rural/urban area on the outskirts of the city, squeezed
between the Diyala and the Tigris rivers in south Eastern
Baghdad. In an effort to develop indigenous civil society
organizations, ePRT East-Baghdad and the Brigade focused on
women's needs as an important step. Through Quick Response
Funds (QRF), a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
opened a Women's Center that now provides no-cost legal and
medical assistance to residents. More than 100 women visited
the center in its first full month of operation, and noted
that key concerns for Zafraniyah residents are displacement,
lost and damaged property, access to child rearing
assistance, and domestic violence. END SUMMARY.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

2. (U) Zafraniyyah is a sometimes violent, mixed
semi-rural/urban area on the outskirts of Baghdad squeezed
between the Diyala and the Tigris rivers. The population is
predominantly Shi'a, with a Sunni presence. Zafarniyyah is a
case study of post-2003 Iraq, having seen a significant
amount of sectarian violence after 2003, and during the 2007
surge. Its largest mosque, with a huge green dome that
overlooks a main highway into town, was once Sunni. In the
past 90 days, more than 40 security incidents have been
recorded by U.S. forces. In conjunction with its military
partners, the ePRT sought projects in this area that might
help the growth of a civil society that provide alternatives
to violence.

3. (U) Toward this end, the ePRT provided approximately USD
83,000 in Quick Response Funds (QRF)to Shatha Naji. Naji is
co-founder of the Women for Peace organization, an
independent, non-governmental organization (NGO), established
in 2003. It focuses on improving women's independence and
propagating the principles of peace while increasing women's
awareness about their role in society.

4. (U) The NGO grantee opened the al-Zafraniyyah Women's
Support Center to the public on December 22, 2009. The
Center is open six days a week and is funded through July 31,
2010. The low economic status of the women (many of whom are
widows) in the area precludes charging a fee for services.

----------------
CENTER RESOURCES
----------------

5. (U) A social worker is on-site five days a week. She is
available for one-on-one counseling sessions, and she also
meets with groups of five or six women to discuss shared
problems. In addition, she leads lectures and workshops for
approximately 20 women at a time. Her counseling sessions
address issues such as displacement, lost and damaged
property, child rearing and domestic violence.

6. (U) Two lawyers spend a total of four days a week at the
center and are on-call other days. They offer free legal
advice and will present cases to local councils or courts. A
legal assistant helps women collect documentation for claims
and provides other administrative support. The lawyers also
organize workshops on the United Nation's Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) and the
legal rights of Iraqi women. The legal help is proving
popular; a January 14 legal rights workshop attracted 63
women.

7. (U) A medical doctor comes twice a week to see patients
and provide referrals for follow-up care at local hospitals
as necessary. She also teaches a first-aid and leads health
workshops. A recent session covered breast cancer awareness,
basic first-aid, infections and hygiene.

Q
-------------------
A DAY AT THE CENTER
-------------------

8. (U) The ePRT's implementing partner provided a report of
a typical day at the Center:

9. (U) About 26 women attended a session on breast cancer
awareness. Most of those present were from low-income
families without a fixed monthly income. The women included
widows, divorcees, married housewives, students and
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Some women brought
their children with them.

10. (U) A female doctor began with a question and answer
session where some participants spoke about members of their
families who were victims of breast cancer. At the end of
the session, the doctor examined women by request. The exams
were not limited to cancer screening. The doctor referred
some women who may need treatment to hospitals, and provided
medicine to others on the spot. Leaflets about breast cancer
were distributed among the participants, and the session
concluded when the grantee spoke to the participants and
emphasized the necessity of passing on information they
learned at the sessions to their families and relatives. She
said it was part of their new empowered role now that they
had visited the Center.

------------
LEGAL CLINIC
------------

11. (U) In this typical week the clinic addressed 12 cases
for local women. The cases primarily involved obtaining
social benefits from the government, and the transference of
pensions from deceased relatives (typically husbands killed
in post-2003 violence) to the client. One woman sought help
obtaining a divorce, and another sought legitimization of her
four children from an unregistered relationship with the
deceased father; her goal is to receive citizenship papers
for her children to enable them to attend school. A final
case involved a woman fired from her job due to political
affiliations who sought relief from the Ministry of Industry.

----------
CHALLENGES
----------

12. (U) More than 100 women have visited the
centrally-located Center in its first month. However,
concerns about the area's security situation have dampened
even wider attendance. The ePRT is encouraging the efforts
of three community liaisons paid for in the grant to
publicize the center's services and activities. They
distribute brochures at public places, such as hospitals,
schools and council halls. As peers and fellow residents of
the neighborhood, they should prove trustworthy guides to the
resources the Center offers.

FORD

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