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Iraqi Women, Fighting for a Voice

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ensho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 12:49 PM
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Iraqi Women, Fighting for a Voice

Activists Confront Dual Powers of Religion, Tribalism

Hawjin Hama Rashid, a feisty journalist in bluejeans and a frilly blouse, had come to the morgue in this Kurdish city to research tribal killings of women. "A week doesn't pass without at least 10," the morgue director said, showing Rashid pictures of corpses on his computer screen.

First, a bloated, pummeled face.

Next, a red, shapeless, charred body. "Raped, then burned," the director said.

Then, another face, eyes half-closed, stab wounds below her neck.


From the southern port city of Basra to bustling Irbil in northern Iraq, Iraqi activists are trying to counter the rising influence of religious fundamentalists and tribal chieftains who have insisted that women wear the veil, prevented girls from receiving education and sanctioned killings of women accused of besmirching their family's honor.


"Women are being strangled by religion and tribalism," said Muna Saud, a 52-year-old activist in Basra.


Since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, satellite television, cellphones and Internet access have deepened the West's imprint on the relatively stable Kurdish region of Iraq, known as Kurdistan. Today, many urban women wear Western clothes and eschew Islamic head scarves. Women make up more than a quarter of the regional parliament.


In the first six months of this year, 206 women were killed in Kurdistan, 150 of them burned to death. The killings were up 30 percent from the previous six months, according to the Kurdish regional government's Human Rights Ministry. Activists say many honor crimes go unreported or are portrayed as accidents. They also say that some women have immolated themselves out of despair.


Saud helps lead the Iraqi Women's League, an activist group whose members teach women computer skills, English and how to be assertive in a male-dominated world.


Saud remembered when Iraqi women didn't need wasta -- connections -- to find a job. In the late 1970s, thousands of Iraqi women, then among the most liberated in the Arab world, worked as doctors, engineers and civil servants.


She said she watched with apprehension as the U.S. military backed tribal groups to fight Sunni insurgents. "In the beginning, the United States gave power to religious parties. Now, giving power to tribal leaders is also a mistake," Saud said. "They consider the women as nothing."

we americans are so guilty of letting the neo cons ruin the lives of women in Iraq.

we americans owe them big time.

more power and love to the women of Iraq.
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