Militias Oppressing Iraqi Women

The USG Open Source Center translates an article about the oppression of women in the new Iraq:

"Woman's Rights Observatory on Retreat of Women's Role in Political Process

Organized acts of oppression against Iraqi women The National Observatory for the Iraqi Woma's Rights: The militias prevent women from going to the market in Karbala

Al-Ittijah al-Akhar

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 T13:06:41Z

Document Type: OSC Translated Text

In a memorandum addressed to the United Nations and a number of embassies in Baghdad, the National Observatory for Iraqi Woman's Rights said that it has received bitter complaints from Iraqi female activists and defenders of women's rights in Iraq indicating that there has been a retreat in what the observatory described "woman's role in political life". The number of female ministers has dropped from six to four, the memo added. The memorandum drew attention to the fact that the Unified Iraqi Coalition, which is the largest bloc in the new government, has refused to nominate any woman for a ministerial position. The four appointed female ministers are all from other political blocs. Two of them are from the Kurdish Alliance; one is from the Iraqi al-Tawafuq Front and the fourth one is from the Iraqi List. The memorandum stated that Iraqi activists have demanded that the positions of deputy prime minister and the deputy chair of the parliament be given to women. However, instead of improving their status in the political life, Iraqi women have lost more than one third of their ratio of representation.

The Observatory said that the position of Iraqi woman was deteriorating and the situation was becoming more serious. Woman's political role is being confiscated. She is exposed increasingly to threats and dangers as a result of the spread of violence in the country. The Observatory denounced the new measures the gunmen are using against women in Karbala. They prevent women from going to the market to shop. This has created a state of resentment among shop owners. They used to receive thousands of female shoppers during religious occasions. Visitors come to Karbala for pilgrimage during such occasions and visit the shrines of Imam al-Husayn and his brother al-Abbas. The two shrines are situated in the center of Karbala and are surrounded by many markets, especially the gold and clothes markets. Large numbers of women used to go for shopping after the pilgrimage.

Recently, some militias have distributed leaflets among shop owners threatening to kill any one who sells or displays lingerie in the facade of their shops to attract female shoppers. As a result all lingerie items have disappeared from the market. In a statement distributed last Sunday (May 28), the Observatory said, "This has been the first time in the history of Iraq where women have been forbidden from going to the market for shopping, as they used to do for many decades."

In the past days, a number of local and international organizations have spoken about organized acts of oppression against Iraqi women with regard to their movement, the clothes they put on, and their political role. Some Iraqi female activists have expressed their resentment over this situation and have called on the prime minister to interfere to rectify matters.

(Description of Source: Baghdad Al-Ittijah al-Akhar in Arabic -- Weekly of the Iraqi Homeland Party, led by Mish'an al-Juburi; Internet version available at:"

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