MADRE Articles

Iraq: Five Years of "Liberation" and an Epidemic of Violence Against Women

Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

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

Unleashing a Campaign of Violence

  • Since the US invasion of 2003, Iraqi women have endured a public campaign of harassment, beatings, abduction, rape, and assassinations.
  • The main perpetrators are militia fighters who see violence against women as a way to enforce their vision of Iraq as an Islamist state.
  • Anyone perceived to challenge that vision is in danger from the militias. Women professionals, artists, intellectuals, lesbians, and human rights activists have been specifically targeted.

Revoking Women's Rights

Arming the Killers

  • In 2005, under a policy called the "Salvador Option," the Pentagon began providing money, weapons, and military training to Shiite militias known to attack women wherever they patrolled.
  • Since early 2007, the US has also funded Sunni militias, including groups that murder women who do not dress or behave to their liking.

Fighting Back

Five years of occupation have demonstrated that the Bush Administration's rhetoric about "liberating" Iraqi women was never more than an excuse for invading Iraq.

Many Iraqi women and men reject both the violence of US occupation and the repression of Islamist ideology. Unlike the Bush Administration, they have a vision of a multi-cultural, pluralistic Iraq grounded in genuine democracy and human rights. They share the broad progressive values of many in the anti-war movement and they deserve our support.

To learn more about the perspectives of Iraqi women, check out:


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