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Thread: 5 years later, Women in Iraq worse off than under Saddam

  1. #1

    5 years later, Women in Iraq worse off than under Saddam

    [QUOTE]One barometer of Iraq's future
    Lois Kazakoff

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    When Zainab Salbi began working with war-displaced women in Bosnia 15 years ago, little did she know that she would see the same horrors in her native country of Iraq.

    Her grandfather's home in Baghdad, where she once had spent hours playing with her cousins, became the office for the Iraq operations of her organization, Women for Women International, shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in 2003.

    By last month, when she returned for the first visit in four years, the office was closed and the house taken over by a militia. "The basketball ring has become an execution pole," she said.

    Salbi's organization operates on a simple premise: Women's well-being is the barometer of a society. If the women fare well, the society will fare well.

    That is why Salbi has focused on female survivors of war, first in Bosnia, in her work. "There are no people more eager to rebuild their lives than the victims of war," she said.

    Yet, despite that drive to thrive even in the worst of circumstances, the word from Iraqi women is one of despair. As part of the "Stronger Women, Stronger Nations," report, and in conjunction with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, Women for Women International polled 1,513 women last fall about their priorities for the present and their hopes for the future.[B] Only 26.9 percent of those polled expressed optimism for the year ahead. Conversely, 85 percent described the situation in Iraq as "bad or very bad."[/B]

    These women, in rural communities from Basra to Kirkuk and 334 in Baghdad itself, are the future of Iraq. On average, they were 33 years old with four children. Most had some education, with 22.8 percent having attended university. They represented the main ethnic groups in Iraq, with 37.9 percent describing themselves as Sunni, 16.5 percent Shiite and 8.6 percent Kurdish. The rest described themselves as Christian or other ethnicities.

    [B]A majority of the women respondents said violence against women is increasing and respect for women's rights is fading.[/B]

    When Salbi, now 38, launched Women for Women International in 1993, her first goal was to develop ways to give women the political, social and economic tools to secure and expand their role in society. Vocational and business training was usually the first order of business. Then came leadership programs, where women learned to talk about their issues in a way that would get the attention of the politicians. That's not happening in Iraq.

    [B]Under Hussein, women had protection under Iraqi family law, but in the effort to remove all memory of Saddam, the law was thrown out[/B].[B] "We wanted to add to Saddam's family law,"[/B] Salbi said.

    [B]Under the current national law, regional courts are left to determine the rules - as interpreted by a judge or an imam or a strong man[/B]. This is what this change has meant, according to interviews of widows in Women for Women's program:

    [B]If a woman's husband is killed or kidnapped, she can't register her children as citizens - both parents must be present. Without citizenship, a child cannot go to school, be treated in a hospital or apply for food subsidies. [/B]
    There are 8 million widows and orphans among the 27 million Iraqis.

    The [B]laws covering divorce, marriage, inheritance and wealth will dictate the future of the nation - yet these basic citizen's rights are ignored.[/B]
    Salbi says the[B] rule of Hussein has been replaced by the rule of the militias[/B], many armed by government contractors paid by the U.S. Army. "This is not a democracy," she said. "The political values are the same as under Saddam. The militia leaders are the political process - and you don't have the right to be a politically active person," she said. Those who are, too often are assassinated.

    Decentralizing the government has undermined women's power. The idea of dividing the country into federations along ethnic lines, as championed by some in Congress, will only make it worse, Salbi said. Of the women surveyed last fall, 88.6 percent said the separation of the country along ethnic/religious/sectarian lines was a bad idea. Yet only 32.3 percent of the respondents thought there would be a unified Iraq in five years - a pragmatic analysis and an acknowledgement that their views are ignored.

    By aligning with militias - just as in Afghanistan - the U.S. forces now have dozens of armed groups all over the country fighting among themselves over turf. "Many in Baghdad want the U.S. to leave," Salbi said, "but they know the United States is the only power all of these militias are afraid of."

    If the nation's future is indeed determined by how its female citizens fare, there's years of work ahead in Iraq.[/QUOTE]

    Awful. Absolutely awful.
    But i guess when faced with reality guys like Cheney will respond , "So"

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    Amazing. No one cares about the struggle of Iraqi women created by this war.
    I guess Cheney was right.. so??

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    [QUOTE=kennyo7;2445868]Amazing. No one cares about the struggle of Iraqi women created by this war.
    I guess Cheney was right.. so??[/QUOTE]

    Women in Iran had tremendous civil rights under the Shah compared to how they are now. It's a shame it takes a brutal dictatorship for women to get a fair shake in the ME.

    Hopefully there will be a future where civil law, and rights for all citizens will replace Sharia law, religious extremism and brutal dictatorships.
    Last edited by Winstonbiggs; 03-22-2008 at 11:37 AM.

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    [QUOTE=kennyo7;2444653]Awful. Absolutely awful.
    But i guess when faced with reality guys like Cheney will respond , "So"[/QUOTE]

    This is part of the problem of not having a sound plan for governing Iraq once it was taken over. Sure the government knew which companies were in line to get the no-bid contracts. The aspect of making money was well planned.

    But what to do once Saddam was overthrown was not planned well at all. This criticism came from democrats and republicans a like, including the presidential nominee.

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    [QUOTE=Winstonbiggs;2445873]Women in Iran had tremendous civil rights under the Shah compared to how they are now. It's a shame it takes a brutal dictatorship for women to get a fair shake in the ME.

    Hopefully there will be a future where civil law, and rights for all citizens will replace Sharia law, religious extremism and brutal dictatorships.[/QUOTE]

    Why do you think this is the case?
    According to the women in Iraq, they had more rights under Saddam Hussein than under this current "democratic" regime.

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    [QUOTE=intelligentjetsfan;2445880]This is part of the problem of not having a sound plan for governing Iraq once it was taken over. Sure the government knew which companies were in line to get the no-bid contracts. The aspect of making money was well planned.

    But what to do once Saddam was overthrown was not planned well at all. This criticism came from democrats and republicans a like, including the presidential nominee.[/QUOTE]

    The problem is, unless we were going to occupy the nation indefinitely and set up our own puppet dictatorship, we really have little say as to who and how the nation will be run. Once you allow a nation to vote for its leaders, you have no say who they will pick. And based on the history of these people , the likelihood was that the govt elected was (and now is ) Shia dominated, pro-Iran with more emphasis n traditional Islamic ways/laws than under Saddam. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you dont.

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    [QUOTE=kennyo7;2445927]Why do you think this is the case?
    According to the women in Iraq, they had more rights under Saddam Hussein than under this current "democratic" regime.[/QUOTE]

    Sadam was a brutal dictator but he wasn't a religous fanatic, neither was the Shah. Iraq and Iran have instituted Sharia law not principles of universal freedom, equality and justice for all citizens. It's not uncommon for a dictator to have a brutal regime that controls the majority by brutally lashing out at a small minority while still treating certain clases of people, in this case women better than a democracy that chooses to discriminate through the law against a large portion of society. Both Sadam and the Shah while brutal at times were still essentially secular governments.
    Last edited by Winstonbiggs; 03-22-2008 at 12:34 PM.

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    [QUOTE=Winstonbiggs;2445940]Sadam was a brutal dictator but he wasn't a religous fanatic, neither was the Shah. Iraq and Iran have instituted Sharia law not principles of universal freedom, equality and justice for all citizens. It's not uncommon for a dictator to have a brutal regime that controls the majority by brutally lashing out at a small minority while still treating certain clases of people, in this case women better than a democracy that chooses to discriminate through the law against a large portion of society. Both Sadam and the Shah while brutal at times were still essentially secular governments.[/QUOTE]

    And thats why i wonder whether Saddam's Secular dictatorship wasin our best interest as opposed to this current Shia govt that places more value on Sharia Law and is more alligned with Iran

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=kennyo7;2446193]And thats why i wonder whether Saddam's Secular dictatorship wasin our best interest as opposed to this current Shia govt that places more value on Sharia Law and is more alligned with Iran[/QUOTE]

    You could be right about this. In the long run the only way we really have any peace is if moderates in the region reject the strident and ultimately have a civil society based on secular laws. I agree we can't create that condition but the idea that a brutal dictatorship can by stealing everyone's liberty is rather depressing to contemplate.

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