Iraqi Woman On the Iraq Elections

She says, “women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity.”

I am an Iraqi woman, and I am boycotting Sunday’s elections. Women who do vote will be voting for an enslaved future. Surely, say those who support these elections, after decades of tyranny, here at last is a form of democracy, imperfect, but democracy nevertheless?

In reality, these elections are, for Iraq’s women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and US-led military assaults of the 20-odd months since Saddam’s fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women’s empowerment.

Having for years enjoyed greater rights than other women in the Middle East, women in Iraq are now losing even their basic freedoms. The right to choose their clothes, the right to love or marry whom they want. Of course women suffered under Saddam. I fled his cruel regime. I personally witnessed much brutality, but the subjugation of women was never a goal of the Baath party. What we are seeing now is deeply worrying: a reviled occupation and an openly reactionary Islamic armed insurrection combining to take Iraq into a new dark age.

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via Third Wave Agenda

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One Response

  1. joanne
    joanne January 29, 2005 at 7:40 pm |

    It’s certainly worrying that there seems to have been a rise of Afghanistan-style fundamentalism among some groups over women’s rights in Iraq. But I’ve seen a lot of Iraqi women (mainly on British news shows where the situation in Iraq is shown rather more honestly than I imagine it would be in the US) talking about how they’re looking forward to the elections and are going to vote in spite of the dangers – and their husbands are not stopping them.

    I think there are definitely groups in Iraq now that would like to see Iraqi women lose the rights they had under Saddam, but I think it shows a lack of faith in those women if we assume that they’re just going to sit back and let their rights be taken away. If they’re going to insist on voting tomorrow when they know that in doing so they may be putting their lives at risk, then why wouldn’t they be just as willing to take risks in order to preserve their rights?

    I think they show considerably more courage than many US women right now – who are under a different, yet not much less fundamental, regime that’s pretty much hell-bent on putting women back “in their place” and don’t seem to be getting all that much resistance. That sounds snarkier than I meant it to be, but it kind of annoys me when there’s an attitude of “enlightenment” among Western women and feminists – like we’re so liberated we don’t need to worry about our own rights, when we obviously still do or that we need to rush in and “save” the unliberated, as if they aren’t capable of liberating themselves.

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