Choose a news category:


Posted on: Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Keywords: Women's Health, Combating Violence Against Women, Peace Building, Iraq, Middle East

Dear Friend of MADRE,

I just spoke with Yanar Mohammed, Director of our partner, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), and I knew I needed to write to you immediately. Yanar describes a truly desperate situation on the ground in Iraq right now.

  • Years of war have taken the lives of many men. Millions of families are now headed by women. But 90% of women are unemployed, leaving many mothers with no way to feed their families.
  • For women who do have jobs, it’s extremely dangerous to work. Islamist militias, boosted to power by the US occupation, have launched a campaign of targeted assassination against women professionals to prevent them from stepping outside traditional gender roles.
  • No government social safety net exists to support women and families in these desperate times. Whatever safety net did exist was dismantled by the US after the invasion.

Yanar told me truly horrifying stories. Mothers are being forced into choices no mother should ever face simply to feed their children. Extreme measures like selling their organs on the black market and being forced to work as prostitutes have become commonplace.

I’m writing to you and other MADRE friends because I knew right away you’d want the opportunity to help.

OWFI urgently needs funds now to open two additional women’s shelters as soon as they possibly can—bringing the total number of OWFI women’s shelters to seven. Especially urgent at this time is an effort to rescue young, teenaged women who’ve been forced into prostitution. These girls are trapped because they simply have nowhere to go. If their families learn what they are doing, they could be murdered in an “honor killing.”

The new shelters could mean the difference between life and death for dozens of young women. In addition to shelter, OWFI will provide teachers to help these high-school-aged women catch up on their lost schooling. They’ll offer job training and help the young women find safe employment. And most importantly, they’ll provide a safe space where even in these desperate times women can help each other find some hope.

I know it’s difficult to imagine the despair and desolation our sisters in Iraq experience each and every day. It’s even more difficult to know that this suffering has come at the hands of our own government. But we must not turn away from the truth. Here are just a few of the stories Yanar shared with me:

  • Basma lost her husband, 9-year-old son, and brother to mortar fire in 2004. She sold a kidney a few months ago to pay for her 11-year-old son’s school, but Basma doesn’t know what she’ll do the next time tuition is due.
  • Suha is 16 years old. She used to dream of being a doctor. But Suha lost five crucial years of schooling to the war, and with little education and few skills, she feels her only choice is to follow the path of other young women who work as prostitutes.
  • Karima says her three children are the only beauty in her life and her only hope. But to put food on her family’s table, she’s forced to have sex with strangers.

These stories remind us that we must continue to demand that our government end this war in Iraq. But RIGHT THIS MINUTE, there is something you can do to make a real difference for hundreds of women and their families.

Please rush your emergency gift today and help MADRE provide OWFI with the resources to open two new shelters in Baghdad.

Thank you, once again, for everything you do to support MADRE’s efforts worldwide.


With deep appreciation,

Vivian Stromberg
Executive Director

« Back to "Press Room" Next Article »

Article Tools
Increase Font Decrease Font Reset Font Print Page Email Page


"Press Room" Home November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001


Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444

To sign up to receive MADRE media alerts, click here.

Bring MADRE to You

MADRE & Our Partners Make News