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Amnesty warns of gender violence in Iraq

BAGHDAD, March 5 (UPI) -- Gender-specific violence against women in Iraq may persist despite the relative calm if leaders fail to address the issue seriously, Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International, in a report on the plight of women in Iraq, warned that despite recent security gains in the country, women in Iraq continue to suffer from targeted attacks.

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"In addition to being victims of the bombings and other attacks that put so many Iraqis in danger every day, they are also being targeted specifically because of their gender," the report said.

Women and girls in Iraq suffer under traditional customs that tolerate segregation, discrimination and honor-killings. Militant Islamic groups, the report said, believe attacks against women are justified because of a perceived opposition to their fundamentalist beliefs.

Meanwhile, various factions outside of the militant groups are attacking women based on a variety of issues, from shunning the veil to refusing forced marriages.

The report warned that "levels of violence against women may remain high if the authorities continue to allow men to kill and maim women with impunity, and if gender segregation and discrimination against women become further entrenched."

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