Sunday, December 24, 2006

Women's Rights Another Victim of the Iraq Catastrophe

Women's Rights Another Victim of the Iraq Catastrophe
December 22, 2006 by Kavita N.Ramdas (Common Dreams)

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq recently issued a frightening report documenting the growing practice of public executions of women by Shiite militias. One of the report's more grisly accounts was a story of a young woman dragged by a wire wound around her neck to a close-by soccer field and hung from the goalpost. They pierced her body with bullets. Her brother came running, trying to defend his sister. He was also shot and killed. Sunni extremists are no better: Organization of Women's Freedom members estimate that at least 30 women are executed monthly for honor-related reasons. Almost four years into the Iraq war, Iraqi women are worse off than they were under the Baathist regime in a country where, for decades, the freedoms and rights enjoyed by Iraqi women were the envy of women in most other countries of the Middle East.

Before the U.S. invasion, Iraqi women were highly educated. Their strong and independent women's movement had successfully forced thegovernment to pass the groundbreaking 1959 Family Law Act, which ensured equal rights in matters of personal law. Iraqi women could inherit land and property; they had equal rights to divorce and custody of their children; they were protected from domestic violence within marriage. In other words, they had achieved real gains in the struggle for equality. Iraqi women, like all Iraqis, certainly suffered from the political repression and lack of freedom, but the secular - albeit brutal - Baathist regime did not impose tribal and religious fundamentalist laws that are now in effect and are contributing to women being kidnapped, raped and executed.

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