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Iraqi Women Want US Occupiers Out

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/03/17-3 Tuesday, March 17, 2009 American
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 17 9:30 AM
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Tuesday, March 17, 2009
      American Forum
      Iraqi Women Want US Out
      by Yifat Susskind

      If you haven't thought about the Iraq war as a story of U.S. allies
      systematically torturing and executing women, you're not alone. Likewise
      if you were under the impression that Iraqi women were somehow better
      off under their new, U.S.-sponsored government.

      In the spring of 2003, Fatin was a student of architecture at Baghdad
      University. Her days were filled with classes and hanging out in her
      favorite of Baghdad's many cafes, where she and her friends studied,
      shared music, and spun big plans for successful careers, happy
      marriages, and eventually kids.

      Today, Fatin says that those feel like someone else's dreams.

      Soon after the U.S. invasion, Fatin began seeing groups of bearded young
      Iraqi men patrolling the streets of Baghdad. They were looking for women
      like her, who wore modern clothes or were heading to professional jobs.
      The men screamed terrible insults at the women and sometimes beat them.

      By the fall, ordinary aspects of Fatin's life had become punishable by
      death. The "misery gangs," as Fatin calls them, were routinely killing
      women for wearing pants, appearing in public without a headscarf, or
      shaking hands and socializing with men.

      As the occupying power, the U.S. was legally obligated to stop these
      attacks. But the Pentagon, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi
      insurgency, simply ignored the militias' reign of terror.

      In fact, some of the most treacherous armed groups belonged to the very
      political parties that the U.S. had brought to power. By 2005, the
      Pentagon was giving weapons, money and military training to these Shiite
      militias, in the hope that they would help combat the Sunni-led insurgency.

      Fatin's closest encounter with the militias occurred when armed men
      burst into her university classroom one morning, threatening to kill any
      female student without a head scarf. After that, young women dropped out
      in droves. The next semester, Fatin's parents refused to allow her to

      While the Pentagon was arming militias bent on brutally ousting Iraqi
      women from public life, the U.S. State Department was busy brokering the
      new Iraqi Constitution. Hailed as "progressive" and "democratic" in
      Washington, the new Constitution designates religious law, which
      discriminates against women, as the basis of all legislation. It also
      restricts women's rights by upending one of the most progressive family
      status laws in the Middle East -- a law that Iraqi women fought for and
      won in 1959, before Saddam Hussein took power.

      For Fatin, the bitter irony is that her new Constitution, courtesy of
      the USA, destroyed women's rights that were once guaranteed in Iraq,
      even under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

      Fatin has now been out of school and unemployed for more than three
      years. Her mother, a pharmacist, and her aunt, trained as a
      veterinarian, have also been unemployed for years now and are too afraid
      to try to find work.

      So what are Iraqi women saying on the sixth anniversary of the U.S.
      invasion? The same thing they've been saying since 2003: End the
      occupation. Polls consistently show that a majority of Iraqis want U.S.
      troops out.

      We've been told that if the U.S. withdraws, violence would again soar in
      Iraq. That's a compelling argument for those of us who care about the
      suffering that the U.S. has already visited on Iraqi women and their
      families. But Iraqis themselves, who have the best grasp of their
      security situation, say that U.S. troops are causing, not confronting,
      violence. In multiple polls, most Iraqis say they would feel much safer
      without U.S. troops.

      Who can blame them? Since the invasion, over a million Iraqis have died
      violently and 4 million have been driven from their homes. The resources
      that women need to care for their families -- electricity, water, food,
      fuel, and medical care -- have become dangerously scarce, sometimes
      totally unavailable.

      Last week marked six years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. In that time,
      women have not only faced mounting violence -- they have also organized
      a movement to confront U.S. occupation and violence against women.

      Looking for a way to speak out against the repression she witnessed,
      Fatin joined the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). In
      partnership with MADRE, an international women's human rights
      organization based in New York, OWFI has worked to promote women's human
      rights, creating a network of women's shelters to protect women fleeing

      The women of Iraq are creating the foundation on which a peaceful and
      just future will be built. It's time we started listening to them.

      Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq

      Iraq Freedom Congress

      Dan Clore

      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord We├┐rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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