Still Waiting for Liberation: Rapists and Politicians Keep Iraqi Women off the Streets and out of Sight

By Pejman, Peyman | New Internationalist, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Still Waiting for Liberation: Rapists and Politicians Keep Iraqi Women off the Streets and out of Sight


Pejman, Peyman, New Internationalist


THESE days one can see very few young female Iraqis, married or single, walking alone in the streets of Baghdad during the day, much less after dark.

Six months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi women are waiting on the sidelines to see if and how they can achieve the rights they were deprived of under 35 years of dictatorship. 'So far we have not seen any benefits from this war that the Americans said would liberate us,' says Kowthar Ahmed, a Baghdad University student. 'If anything, things have become worse for us.'

Women's rights organizations, hospitals and United Nations agencies report continuing rapes and kidnappings of young women. Many have become assault victims and been held for ransom. No accurate numbers are available, but rape and kidnapping cases in the past six months run well into the thousands.

'We never had this kind of problem under Saddam,' Ahmed says. 'We could walk outside, alone, and late into the night. Not any more.'

Security is not the only issue on the mind of Iraqi women. Women activists are concerned about the need to change laws and cultural dogmas, and to encourage women to be aggressive in demanding their rights.

Of the 25 members appointed to the interim governing council, three were women. …

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