Little Green Footballs

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The New Iraq: Women's Rights

Ghali Hassan, writing for Counter Currents documents the erosion of women's rights in the new Iraq. It's a worrying and sobering read and yet again asks the question "What noble cause?"

Prior to the arrival of U.S. forces, Iraqi women were free to go wherever they wish and wear whatever they like. The 1970 Iraqi constitution, gave Iraqi women equity and liberty unmatched in the Muslim World. Since the U.S. invasion, Iraqi women’s rights have fallen to the lowest level in Iraq’s history. Under the new U.S.-crafted constitution, which will be put to referendum on the 15 October while the bloodbath mounts each day, women’s rights will be oppressed and the role of women in Iraqi society will be curtailed and relegated to the caring for “children and the elderly”.

Immediately after the invasion, the U.S. embarked on cultivating friendships with religious groups and clerics. The aim was the complete destruction of nationalist movements, including women’s rights movements, and replacing them with expatriate religious fanatics and criminals piggybacked from Iran, the U.S. and Britain. In the mean time the U.S. moved to liquidate any Iraqi opposition or dissent to the Occupation.


Since March 2003, Iraqi women have been brutally attacked, kidnapped and intimidated from participating in Iraqi society. The generation-old equality and liberty laws have been, replaced by Middle Ages laws that strip women of their rights and put them in the same oppressive life as women in Afghanistan, the nation which the U.S. invaded to “liberate” its oppressed women. The 1970 Iraqi constitution is not only the most progressive constitution in the Muslim World, but also the most equal. Iraqis were mentioned only as “citizens”, and Iraqi women’s rights were specifically protected.

In December 2003, the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) – constituted mostly of the current puppet government – approved resolution 137, which will replace Iraq’s 1959 Personal Status Laws with religious law to be administered by conservative religious clerics from different religious groups with different interpretation of Islamic laws. The laws could affect women’s rights to education, employment, and freedom of movement, divorce, children custody and inheritance. The 55-member Constitutional Committee, who allegedly drafted – under the American radar – the new constitution, is only 17 per cent women. Like the January elections, the drafting of the constitution was undemocratic and lack public participation. Amid the escalation of violence, Iraqis are asked to vote on a constitution they do not understand. Many Iraqis believe “the new constitution weakens the state and strengthens religion within the government”, which can be used to suppress people’s rights and freedom in general and women’s rights in particular. Its main purpose is to legitimise the Occupation and the puppet government. Iraqis, women in particular do not need a constitution; they need peace and security.


The only hope left for Iraqis to gain their freedom and liberty is the immediate and full withdrawal of U.S. troops, and their collaborators from Iraq. The forming of an Iraqi government based on national unity and independence should provide laws that are legitimate and that guarantee human rights for all Iraqis.

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