Democrats & Liberals Archives

What are Iraqi Women Facing?

Republican pundits often bandy about the assertion that “Iraq is better off” after last year’s U.S. invasion. Yet Iraqi women are in peril of this not being the case when we hand over the political reins in June.

Currently, under American stewardship, there is a fantastic opportunity for the initial creation of an Iraqi government to include fair female representation, yet that opportunity thus far has not been realized. Women make up anywhere between 50-65% of the population of Iraq ( post-war figures vary a bit), yet only 3 were appointed to the group of 25 comprising the Interim Governing Council (IGC).

One has to wonder what sort of intimidation tactics these 3 were under to agree to the recent decision to rescind existing family laws (ranging from the prohibition of marriage under age 18 to the prevention of 'arbitrary divorce') and replace them with sharia family laws.

Depending on interpretation, this could allow men to have multiple wives, cause inheritance issues, and the aforementioned ability for men to divorce their wives at will.

I am glad to hear Iraqi women are protesting, but I fear their voices will be lost. They are lobbying for representation not only on the IGC, but in the writing of the interim Constitution (of which no women have a hand), and in local positions of power. So far, even with a U.S. presence, these matters are not improving; indeed, in light of recent proposals, it easily could become worse, and soon.

Now that the U.S. is involved (setting aside for the moment validity questions of being there in the first place), the 'unoccupation' of Iraq has to be handled very delicately, with a firm plan- and taking into consideration the downstream effects of a quick, arbitrary pull-out of forces.

Otherwise, we could be condemning these women to a life not unlike that Afghani women faced under the Taliban.

Posted by tamsen at January 16, 2004 3:26 AM