Iraq Women’s Rights Vanishing Due to US Occupation

by Vins

Iraqi author, artist, and political activist Haifa Zangana delivered an address before the European Parliament on January 29, 2014 detailing overwhelming challenges faced by Iraqi women as a result of the US occupation and breakdown of civil society.

*Many women are widowed, forced to haunt social welfare offices only to retrieve insufficient payments which are often late. Monthly aid is $85, yet average monthly rent is $210.

* Women increasingly have to protect their families and carry out necessary daily tasks like burying the dead and searching for relatives in morgues.

* The maternal mortality rate for Iraq remains the highest regionally. 47.7% of women reported difficulties in receiving government health care; 40.6% have difficulty reaching services.

*Women in Falluja fear pregnancy as they may produce monstrously abnormal newborns. Environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani notes increasing birth defects are also observable in Mosul, Najaf, Basra, Hawijah, Nineveh and Baghdad.

*Polygamy is experiencing a resurgence to address the ever-increasing number of widowed and unmarried women.

*The 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TiP) Report indicates Iraq is a source country for men, women and children. In Iraq 16 years old females are sold in prices ranging from $30,000 US; older girls attract the price of $2,000. Girls as young as 10 or 12 are trafficked from Iraq.

*Women are arrested and detained for “security reasons.” The Minister of Women Affairs Nawal al-Samarrai said women prisoners are routinely beaten, abused and in some cases raped in both US and Iraqi prisons.

*Only 2% of the workers are women in the private sector. 10% of households are headed by females who are widowed, divorced, separated, or caring for sick spouses.

*Article 47 of the Iraqi constitution mandating women comprise 25% of Representatives is ignored by the present government. Of 44 government ministers, only one is a woman.

Source: The Brussells Tribunal, “The Continuing Deterioration of Women’s Rights in Iraq,” February 2, 2014, http://www.brussellstribunal.org/article_view.asp?ID=1388#.

Student Researcher: Veronica Santiago (Florida Atlantic University)

Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)