It was better under Saddam
Iraqi women say they are worse off now than they were during the rule of
dictator Saddam Hussein and that their plight has deteriorated year by year
since the US-led invasion in March 2003. “Before the 2003 invasion it was
possible for a woman to lead a normal life as long as she followed state
policy,” said Shameran Marugi, head of the non-governmental organisation Iraqi
“It was even possible for a woman to engage in political and economic
activities through the official Union of Iraqi Women,” added Marugi. “When the
regime change occurred... there was no qualified leadership to handle the
situation and society was not equipped to deal with the changes.”
The Union of Iraqi Women was dismantled after the invasion as it was affiliated
to the Baath Party of Saddam and in the past few years, Marugi said, violence
against women has increased significantly. “At home a woman faces violence from
her father, husband, brother and even from her son. It has become a new culture
in the society,” said the women’s rights campaigner.
Women are subjected to verbal abuse on the streets if they are not wearing a
hijab and in extreme cases face being abducted by gun-men, who sexually abuse
and then kill them. “It has also become normal for women to receive death
threats... for not wearing a hijab or not dressing ‘decently’,” said Marugi.
Although there are no nationwide official figures available, rights activists
report numerous cases of so-called “honour killings” in the southern city of
Basra, in the northern Kurdish area and in Baghdad. A report by the US-based
Women For Women International released earlier this month said the state of
Iraqi women has become a “national crisis” since the March 2003 US-led invasion.
It said 64 per cent of the women surveyed complained that violence against them
had increased. The report also found that 76 per cent of the women interviewed
said that girls in their families were forbidden from attending school.
Selma Jabu, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s consultant for women’s affairs,
admitted that apart from being sidelined politically Iraqi women are subjected
to abuse and intimidation on the streets and face violent sexual abuse.
from 7DAYS General and Local News | Dubai Abu Dhabi | UAE: http://www.7days.ae
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