Even though the United States has withdrawn a majority of its troops from Iraq, there are still 5,000 private contractors and Iraq is still heavily militarized. Almost 1 million Iraqi personnel have been recruited into the army and the security agencies.
Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), has for months helped many Iraqis express their anger. Since February 2011’s “Day of Iraqi Anger” – on which tens of thousands of Iraqis nationwide called for jobs, fair distribution of Iraq’s oil wealth and an end to occupation – Mohammed has helped organize weekly demonstrations in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. She’s been a vocal critic of both the U.S.-led occupation and the fundamentalist groups that she says are now in power.
On June 10, 2011, Mohammed and other OWFI activists were attacked and sexually assaulted while demonstrating. Despite continued threats and intimidation, she continues her work to defend Iraqi women from domestic abuse and sexual trafficking, and to promote women’s voices and demands in the struggle for a truly democratic Iraq.
After Saddam was overthrown women’s right have worsened. Before the US invasion there were some basic rights for women. The Organization of Women Rights in Iraq (OWRI) was started to try and create a “society of full equality for everybody under secular, non-ethical constitution”.
OWFI reports that while U.S. troops are leaving, they have left 1% of Iraqis in charge who are ruling ruthlessly. A member of Parliament in Iraq receives annual compensation that is equivalent to $102,000, while a worker in the Iraqi public sector earns $200 or $300 as a beginning monthly salary. This is a society of inequality and women are at the bottom.
In Iraq’s Parliament, 25% are supposed to be women. But a majority of women in are a part of the Religious Right and do not speak up for women’s rights. When the assault of OWRI protestors occurred none of the women on Parliament spoke up about it. Power in Iraq is now in the hands of misogynist individuals who mistreat women.
Title: Fighting for Gender Equality in Iraq
Author: Rebecca Burns
Publication: In These Times, 07 February 2012
Faculty Advisor: Lynn Lowery, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Maurisa McElhinny, Sonoma State University