Iraq: Five Years of "Liberation" and an Epidemic of Violence Against Women
Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2008
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
- The largest Islamist militias are the armed wings of Iraqi political parties brought to power by the US.
- In 2003, US authorities hand-picked Islamist leaders to sit on the Iraqi Governing Council. The Council was presented in the US as the gateway to Iraqi democracy, yet these US appointees openly declared their intent to restrict women's rights.
- Once empowered, Islamists quickly moved to rescind Iraq's 1959 family law which guaranteed women equal rights in crucial areas of life.
- They also produced a constitution—with strong backing from the US—that discriminates against women in numerous ways.
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.
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:
- The Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI)
- City of Widows, a new book by Iraqi activist and author Haifa Zangana
- Riverbend, author of Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq