Friday, March 7, 2008

Thanks to US Invasion, Iraqi Women Lose Rights, Gain Abuse

One of the unintended consequences of the US Invasion of Iraq is the entrenchment of powerful Islamist forces that have permeated Iraqi society and turned it inside out, gutting advances in women's rights that were achieved during Saddam Hussein's secular regime. As usual, bumbling US interventionist, blind, and ultimately anti-democratic international policies have struck again. And as usual, women and children, and of course, civilians, bear the brunt of the resulting debacle.

According to this report by Dahr Jamail, the results are devastating. Whereas under Saddam, women had a higher level of education than in most of the Arab world, and could obtain well-compensated and respected jobs in medicine, law, government, and universities, and of course, there was no dress code, now women are turning up in garbage dumps, after having been raped, tortured and murdered ... accused of having been "bad" for not adhering to strict so-called "Islamic" dress codes and other restrictions.

The militias dominated by the Shia Badr Organisation and the Mehdi Army are leading imposition of strict Islamist rules. The Shia-dominated Iraqi government
is seen as providing tacit and sometimes direct support to them.

Women are being harrassed, threatened, kidnapped, tortured and killed for "offenses" ranging from lack of hijab (in this case, stricter head-to-toe covering) and wearing makeup to having respectable jobs outside the home or even attending a university or school. This situation extends to all major cities in Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad to Baquba and beyond. It is beyond unimaginable, beyond horrifying. Women are being reduced, along with the whole of Iraq generally, to rubble. They are often out of fear forced to live confined like prisoners in their own homes.

And Iraq itself suffers from the lack of their valuable input as doctors, government employees, lawyers and teachers/professors. Not to mention the fact that many of them are widows with children, thanks to the war, and therefore, under this horrific siege of so-called "Islamic" - what I consider the absolute antithesis of "Islamic" - militias enforcing their own weird, right-wing agenda that totally undermines the very thing they profess to be defending: the family, the social structure, even religion. How can these women feed their own children if they cannot work outside the so-called "home", which consists of God only knows what bombed-out shelter or lack thereof?

If these so-called "Muslims" are so allegedly religous, why do they forcibly prevent their own children's mothers to struggle to survive, even though this affects their children's survival? Who are they to label these wives, mothers, and daughters "bad" when they spend much of their own time marauding, raping, killing and threatening others?

It's gotten so bad that all the achievements in women's education are basically bombed out.

In early 2007 Iraq's Ministry of Education found that more than 70 percent of girls and young women no longer attend school or college.

It's not lack of desire for knowledge. It's only the pervasive atmosphere of fear, caused by the abductions and killings that have become prevalent. In Basra where red graffiti warns women to cover from head to toe, at least 40 women have been abducted in the last five months alone, according to the police chief. And in Baghdad,

Several women victims have been accused of being "bad" before they were
abducted, residents have told IPS in Baghdad. Most women who are abducted are
later found dead.
The bodies of several have been found in garbage dumps, showing signs of rape and torture. Many bodies had a note attached saying the woman was "bad", according to residents who did not give their names to IPS.
Similar problems exist for women in Baquba, the capital city of Diyala province, 40 km northeast of Baghdad.
"My neighbour was killed because she was accused of working in the directorate-general of police of Diyala," resident Um Haider told IPS in January. "This woman worked as a receptionist in the governor's office, and not in the police. She was in charge of checking women who work in the governor's office."
Killings like this have led countless women to quit jobs, or to change them.

Thus the Iraqi women must spend their time virtually imprisoned at home, never daring to venture out unless escorted, into streets which by themselves are extremely dangerous war zones.

"Women bear great pain and risks when militants control the streets," Um Basim, a mother of three, told IPS in Baquba recently. "No man can move here or there. When a man is killed, the body is taken to the morgue. The body has to be received by the family, so women often go alone to the morgue to escort the body home. Some are targeted by militants when they do this."

As if this is not bad enough, women are also being detained in US and Iraqi prisons, and their situation is unknown.

According to Nadira Habib, deputy head of the parliamentary committee, there are around 200 women detained in the Iraqi run al-Adala prison in Baghdad. Habibi says there are presumably women in U.S.-run prisons too. "But no one knows how
many female detainees are now in prisons run by U.S. forces as they always
refuse requests from our committee to visit them."

On top of this are the so-called "honor killings", especially common in the Kurdish north, where women are slaughtered on suspicion of having affairs or even contact with someone, often false allegations. So where is the US and where are the so-called Western democracies? Busy "fighting terrorists" - read "planting them" - all over the world.

If instead of taking a militaristic approach, the US and West had taken the approach of dialogue and "detente" - oooh, radical! - maybe democracy would have had a chance. But when you go the military route, taking what the rest of the world views as an extreme interventionist position, what do you expect of the others, your supposed "enemies"? They will be militant, extremist, right-wing jerks. Islam is far away and unlike all that these so-called "Islamists" are doing, just as other hijacked religions are in their essence unlike what extremist zealots act out, from extremist Jews to extremist fundamentalist Christians to extremist (think USSR & Maoist China) atheists, all imposing their narrow views on societies by force. The invasion of Iraq is in essence an invasion, forcing a whole society to kowtow to our own needs, ideas, etc, by force of arms. It is a path doomed to failure and will drag down all that get caught in it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A wonderful truthful evaluation of the whole sad mess there. When when are the women going to rise together? THis can only be done with the whole 53% of our world population. When women around the world roar and band together we will be set free from the clutches of timeless disparities.