Posted by: Kirsty | January 28, 2009

The Battle Against Brutality: Women’s Rights in Iraq

Found this article in The Guardian this afternoon. Nadje Al-Ali has written a book called What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq along with Nicola Pratt. It’s published by University of California Press.

In her book she highlights the fact that, as a result of consecutive wars, the Iraqi population is now disproportionately female – with some estimates putting the ratio of women to men at 65/35. There are 300,000 impoverished widows in Baghdad alone, forced to run their households on two hours of electricity a day. As early as July 2003 a Human Rights Watch report highlighted “the vulnerability of women and girls to sexual violence and abduction”, and kidnaps that target women (often related to sex trafficking) have increased since the start of the war, as have female suicide rates and honour killings.

According to Al-Ali’s interviewees, women are being bullied back into the home. So, for instance, she focuses on the story of Sarwa Abdul Wahab Al Darwish, a 36-year-old television journalist from Mosul whose high profile led her to receive death threats. Then, last May she was dragged from a taxi and killed with a shot to the head in front of her mother. Overall, the book backs up the opinion of an Iraqi journalist I met in London, who says that “occupation has put women’s position back to the 1930s”.

The fact that George W Bush depicted the invasion of Iraq as a path to women’s empowerment makes the situation even more outrageous. In her book, Al-Ali meticulously explains how Condoleezza Rice and Laura Bush were deployed to reassure the world that the US was concerned with women’s liberation – Laura Bush being wheeled out for photo-opportunities with US organisations such as Women for Free Iraq.

You can read the rest of the article here.



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