"Daughters Of Iraq" Are Working To Take Back The Neighborhood

There have been over 20 "successful" female suicide bombers in Iraq since November, and U.S. and Iraqi forces have begun hiring local women to join their neighborhood security associations as a way to quell the tide of attacks. The Daughters of Iraq, an offshoot of the group Sons of Iraq, are working "in pairs, frisking female visitors for weapons and explosives at schools, hospitals, banks and government offices," reports the Los Angeles Times. Melath Dulaimi, who helps lead 42 female security guards in the Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiya, tells the paper: "Iraqi women are the same as Iraqi men…We want to take back our neighborhood." Which is not to say there hasn't been some opposition to women in positions of authority by Iraqi leadership; the Daughters of Iraq are not allowed to carry weapons, nor are they allowed act as sentry at checkpoints.

According to Riyad abu Mohammed, the leader of the Adhamiya chapter of Sons of Iraq, "In our culture, we can't have women standing in public on a checkpoint…It isn't good for us, for her or her family." But Captain Michael Starz, the US officer in charge of the Yusufiyah area of Baghdad, thinks that employing these women is good for them and their families, especially since many of the Daughters of Iraq are widows who desperately need the $300 monthly salary in order to help their children to survive. "It is a critical security issue that we find a way to have women searched at high-traffic areas," Starz told Time magazine last week. "Secondly, this is an employment program. After years of war and sectarian violence, many of the women around here are widows and have no way of supporting themselves."

Not surprisingly, neither the LA Times nor Time really acknowledge that American forces have helped create the discord in the first place. In a series of blog posts featuring the voices of Iraqi women on the New York Times website, one reader asks, "Do you, as an Iraqi women, feel happier or more secure since the American invasion of Iraq?" Hiba Hussain, a 24-year-old Shiite, answered, "I quit school because of the security situation and because I was once kidnapped. So I left my education behind."

Daughters Of Iraq: Women Take On A Security Role [Los Angeles Times]

A Female Security Force In Iraq [Time]

Answers From Iraqi Women Part I [NY Times]

Answers From Iraqi Women Part II [NY Times]