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Women's Rights Have Fallen By The Wayside In U.S. Plan For Iraq

Illustration for article titled Womens Rights Have Fallen By The Wayside In U.S. Plan For Iraq

At this point we can all agree that the sloppily-violent current situation in Iraq is such a Sisyphusean, multifaceted mess that it's hard to know which way is up — which decisions have positive effects, who's winning in this scenario and who's losing. What's clear is that across the board women are not doing so hot. In an effort to keep the peace against insurgents, Newsweek writes, the U.S. ground commanders have given a great deal of power to sheiks and other local leaders, particularly in the insurgent-heavy Sunni south. "Now Iraq's Sunni areas have been chopped into fragments, each one run by a different tribal ruler with different views on law and society," and many of those rulers are placing stringent controls on female liberties.

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"Each has its own bizarre rules; some threaten to kill women who don't wear veils in public," reports Newsweek. A shop assistant whose brother was killed last year is "asking for trouble if she wears black more than three days running. According to the new enforcers in her neighborhood, anyone who dresses in mourning is committing blasphemy by questioning the will of God."

It's polygamy Monday here at Jezebel because apparently forced polygamy is allegedly on the rise under the rule of some of the local leaders in Iraq. Adds Newsweek, "In Anbar's provincial capital, Ramadi, where tribal troops allow women to work but not to go without headscarves...Women rarely venture out of their homes now."

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There is a sliver of hope in ladies like Women's Affair's Minister Narmin Othman, who is waging a campaign against "Honor Killings" in Iraq. She is facing severe opposition, but her mere existence could serve as a beacon. Things might get worse before they get better, because as Newsweek points out, "at present, U.S. forces are too pleased by the sharp drop in jihadist attacks to lose sleep over things like gender issues."

Sacrificed To The Surge [Newsweek]

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DISCUSSION

Shit, this is pretty bad. Not to give props to the Hussein regime, but, to the best of my understanding (ie a New York Times special several years ago), women's rights in Iraq were way ahead of the Middle Eastern curve under Sadaam Hussein. There were women in professional positions, way more girls going to school... and I can't remember who, but Sadaam totally ripped on someone* for calling Iraqi women "whores." Girls/women used to walk around in jeans or business suits; now they're getting wrapped up under threat from local fundie groups.

* IIRC, "ripped on" involved violence, which doesn't do much for the nice sentiment behind "Hey. Don't call Iraqi women whores!"