Highlights

 
Quotable
Vietnam was the first war ever fought without censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
General William Westmoreland
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
February 1, 2008

Violence Draws Veil Over Women


by Jim Lobe

BAQUBA - Conditions are particularly difficult for women in Baquba, despite the relative lull in violence. The city, about 40 km northeast of Baghdad, is capital of Diyala province, amongst the most troubled regions of Iraq in recent months.

As in all conflict areas, women, along with children and the elderly, have suffered most. A large number of women have been killed or kidnapped during close to five years of occupation.

Before the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, women in Iraq had jobs and enjoyed civil rights they can hardly dream of any more.

"My neighbor was killed because she was accused of working in the directorate-general of police of Diyala," resident Um Haider told IPS. "This woman worked as a receptionist in the governor's office, and not in the police. She was in charge of checking women who work in the governor's office."

Killings like this have led countless women to quit jobs, or to change them.

"I was head of the personnel division in an office," a local woman speaking on condition of anonymity told IPS. "On the insistence of my family and relatives, I gave up my position and chose to be an employee."

Women's lives have changed, and they are beginning to look different. They are now too afraid to wear anything but conservative dresses – modern clothes could be a death warrant. The veil is particularly dominant in areas under the control of militias.

"My friend could not recognize his wife when she passed him on her way to school because she had her face veiled," Najmidden Khamis, a local grocer, told IPS. "Earlier some liked it and others rejected it, but now it is dominant given the lack of law and government."

"The veil is undesirable in university society," an academic speaking on condition of anonymity told IPS. "I myself reject the idea because if I do not see the face of my student, how is it possible to tell who it is, or even whether it is a man or woman, especially at examinations?"

But many women do wear the veil because they choose to. "The principles of Islam are that a woman should cover her whole body including the face," said a local woman employee in a public office. "Uncovering the face is a sin."

"This matter is controversial," says the sheikh at a local mosque. "The majority of specialists say that the woman should cover everything except the face and the palm of the hand. Many may put veils on the face because they are forced to."

That the issue is controversial is clear. "This is a violation and transgression of women's rights," a local communist supporter told IPS. It comes on top of severe restrictions on women these days, he said. "A woman is not allowed out of home freely, and she has frequently to be escorted by someone like her husband or her brother."

Women are paying a price for the occupation in all sorts of ways.

"Women bear great pain and risks when militants control the streets," Um Basim, a mother of three, told IPS. "No man can move here or there. When a man is killed, the body is taken to the morgue. The body has to be received by the family, so women often go alone to the morgue to escort the body home. Some are targeted by militants when they do this."

Confined to home, many women live in isolation and depression.

"Women have nowhere to go to spend leisure time," Um Ali, a married woman, told IPS. "Our time is spent only at home now. I have not traveled outside Baquba for more than four years. The only place I can go to is my parents' home. Housekeeping and children have been all my life; I have no goals to attain, no education to complete. Sometimes, I can't leave home for weeks."

Before the invasion, she said, "we, the family, used to go to Baghdad or other provinces to visit friends and places. We used to go with the children for festivals and vacations."

"Iraqi women lack the freedom to do anything, and this, of course, depends on the cultural status of the society in which they live," a local woman told IPS. "The freedom given to women in Baghdad differs from that in Baquba or in the south of Iraq. But society in general and the family in particular enjoy absolute power over the woman nowadays."

"Women's status in Iraq needs a great revolution," the head of a division of the directorate-general of communications, and mother of two children, told IPS. "Things were going very well, but the absence of law that came with the occupation, which created the extremist militants, has ruined the prestige of woman. The bad status is a result of the bad security situation. Any improvement in women's status means an improvement in the political situation."


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • US Jews Open to Palestinian Unity Govt
    3/26/2009

  • Bipartisan Experts Urge 'Partnership' With Russia
    3/17/2009

  • Obama Administration Insists It's Neutral in Salvador Poll
    3/14/2009

  • NGOs Hail Congressional Moves to Ease Embargo
    3/12/2009

  • Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support
    3/7/2009

  • Washington Ends Diplomatic Embargo of Syria
    3/4/2009

  • Diplomatic, Aid Spending Set to Rise Under Obama Budget
    2/28/2009

  • Many Muslims Reject Terror Tactics, Back Some Goals
    2/26/2009

  • Lugar Report Calls for New Cuba Policy
    2/24/2009

  • U.S.-Israel Storm Clouds Ahead?
    2/20/2009

  • Calls Mount for Obama to Appoint 'Truth Commission'
    2/20/2009

  • Washington's Praise of Venezuelan Vote Suggests D├ętente
    2/19/2009

  • Rightward Shift in Israeli Polls Creates New Headaches
    2/13/2009

  • US Advised to Back Somalia Reconciliation Efforts
    2/12/2009

  • Hawks Urge Boosting Military Spending
    2/5/2009

  • More Troops, More Worries,
    Less Consensus on Afghanistan
    2/4/2009

  • Report: Most Citizens Kept in Dark on Govt Spending
    2/2/2009

  • Obama Raises Hopes of
    Mideast Experts
    1/28/2009

  • Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
    1/23/2009

  • Rights Groups Applaud Move to Halt Gitmo Trials
    1/22/2009

  • Obama Offers Internationalist Vision
    1/21/2009

  • Around the World, High Hopes for Obama
    1/20/2009

  • Liberals, Realists Set to Clash in Obama Administration
    1/19/2009

  • Obama Urged to Take Bold Steps Toward Cuba Normalization
    1/15/2009

  • Clinton Stresses 'Cooperative Engagement,' 'Smart Power'
    1/14/2009

  • Bush Foreign Policy Legacy Widely Seen as Disastrous
    1/14/2009

  • Networks' Int'l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
    1/6/2009

  • Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance
    1/3/2009

  • Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans
    12/30/2008

  • Report: Recognizing Hamas Could Help Peace
    12/19/2008

  • Business Groups Support Dismantling Cuba Embargo
    12/8/2008

  • Mumbai Massacre Seen as Major Blow to Regional Strategy
    12/5/2008

  • Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria
    12/3/2008

  • Diplomacy, Multilateralism Stressed by Obama Team
    12/2/2008

  • Obama Foreign Policy: Realists to Reign?
    11/28/2008

  • Hemispheric Group Calls for Major Changes in Americas Policy
    11/25/2008

  • Greybeards Urge Overhaul of Global Governance
    11/21/2008

  • Intelligence Analysts See Multi-Polar, Risky World By 2025
    11/21/2008

  • Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with UN
    11/20/2008

  • Obama-Tied Think-Tank Calls for Pakistan Shift
    11/18/2008

  • Obama Advised to Forgo More Threats to Iran
    11/17/2008

  • First, Close Gitmo,
    Say Rights Groups
    11/11/2008

  • Obama's Foreign Policy:
    No Sharp Break From Bush
    11/11/2008

  • Coca Cultivation Up Despite Six Years of Plan Colombia
    11/7/2008

  • Obama to Seek Global Re-engagement, But How Much?
    11/6/2008

  • Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains?
    11/3/2008

  • Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan
    10/19/2008

  • Top Ex-Diplomats Slam 'Militarization' of Foreign Policy
    10/16/2008

  • Bush Set to Go With a Whimper, Not a Bang
    10/15/2008

  • Pakistan 'Greatest Single Challenge' to Next President
    10/8/2008

  • Senate Passes Nuke Deal Over Escalation Fears
    10/3/2008

  • Brief Talks With Syria Spur Speculation
    10/1/2008

  • Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for AIPAC
    9/27/2008

  • Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
    9/25/2008

  • White House Still Cautious on Georgia
    9/6/2008

  • US' Somalia Policy Likely to Bring Blowback
    9/4/2008

  • Iran Could Reap Benefits of U.S.-Russian Tensions
    8/28/2008

  • A Really Bad Couple of Weeks for Pax Americana
    8/24/2008

  • Success of Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program Doubtful
    8/9/2008

  • US Gets No Traction in the Middle East
    8/5/2008

  • Gates Strategy Stresses Unconventional Warfare
    8/1/2008

  • Air Force Think Tank Advises Against Iran Attack
    7/31/2008

  • Pakistani PM May Be Pincushion for U.S. Frustration
    7/26/2008

  • Realists Urge Bush to Drop Iran Precondition
    7/23/2008

  • McCain Knee-Capped by Maliki
    7/22/2008

  • Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com