Women in Post-war Iraq
So-called freedom for Iraqis has been death, poverty and insecurity. The following accounts are not a result of ‘insurgent’ activity, but rather the work of US/UK allies:
Terri Judd in the Independent UK takes a deeper look at their plight in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom:
The women of Basra have disappeared. Three years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women’s secular freedoms – once the envy of women across the Middle East – have been snatched away because militant Islam is rising across the country.
Across Iraq, a bloody and relentless oppression of women has taken hold. Many women had their heads shaved for refusing to wear a scarf or have been stoned in the street for wearing make-up. Others have been kidnapped and murdered for crimes that are being labelled simply as "inappropriate behaviour". The insurrection against the
fragile and barely functioning state has left the country prey to extremists whose notion of freedom does not extend to women.
In the British-occupied south, where Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army retains a stranglehold, women insist the situation is at its worst. Here they are forced to live behind closed doors only to emerge, concealed behind scarves, hidden behind husbands and fathers. Even wearing a pair of trousers is considered an act of defiance, punishable by death.
One Basra woman, known only as Dr Kefaya, was working in the women and children’s hospital unit at the city university when she started receiving threats from extremists. She defied them. Then, one day a man walked into the building and murdered her.
. . .
Speaking to The Independent near Saddam’s old palace in the middle of Basra, Mrs Aziz, reeled off the names of other dead friends. Three of her university class have been killed since the invasion. "My friend Sheda and her sister. They were threatened.
One day they returned to their house with two other women. They were all shot," she said. Her language is chillingly perfunctory.
. . .
Sajeda Hanoon Alebadi, 37, who – like Mrs Aziz – has now taken to wearing a headscarf, said: "Women are being assassinated. We know the people behind it are saying we have a fatwa, these are not good women, they should be killed."
. . .
To venture on the streets today without a male relative is to risk attack, humiliation or kidnap. A journalist, Shatta Kareem, said: "I was driving my car one day when someone just crashed into me and drove me off the road. If a woman is seen driving these days it is considered a violation of men’s rights."
. . .
Mrs Alebadi estimated that as many as 70 per cent of women in Basra had been widowed by the constant conflicts. "You see widows on the streets begging at the intersections."
Optimists say the very fact that 25 per cent of Iraq’s Provincial Council is composed of women proves women have been empowered since the invasion. But the people of Basra say it is a smokescreen. Any woman who becomes a part of the system, they say, is incapable of engineering any change for the better. Posters around the city promoting the constitution graphically illustrate that view. The faces of the women candidates have been blacked out, the accompanying slogan, "No women in politics," a stark reminder of the opposition they face.