Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"“Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq." That's the title of the ground breaking report being released today at the UN.

The announcement follows on the heels of two high-profile cases of Sunni women allegedly raped by Shiite security forces last month.

The report documents the systematic use of violence committed by Islamist militias against Iraqi women. Methods of violence include widespread honor killings, torture, assassination and rape. The report reveals the most extensive violence against women has been committed by Shiite militias armed, trained, and financed by the United States.

The author of the report is Yifat Susskind who is here in the studio with me. Also joining us is Houzan Mahmoud. She is the International Representative of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq. Welcome to Democracy Now!.....

YIFAT SUSSKIND: Well, I mean, you summed it up well, Amy. There’s been, since the US invasion, a virtual epidemic of all forms of gender-based violence in Iraq, a sharp rise in violence against women in the public sphere, women being harassed, beaten, assassinated, raped. Much of it is directed by Islamist militias on both sides of the sectarian divide.

But what is really remarkable is that much of the violence -- in fact, the most widespread violence -- in many instances is being carried out by these militias who are essentially the armed wings of the political parties that the US has boosted to power in Iraq. So these are sort of shock troops of political parties that are closely allied with the United States. At a certain point, the US was providing military training and arms and money to these militias, in the hopes that they would sort of step up where the official Iraqi army had not and were to combat the anti-US insurgency.

You know, there's a lot of pieces that, you know, we've seen in the press sort of in bits and pieces. But what we haven't seen is kind of the story of the Iraq war told from the perspective of Iraqi women, and that's what we aim to do in the report.....

AMY GOODMAN: Houzan, how difficult, dangerous is it to talk about this issue? Right now, you’ve just had a fatwa issued against you?

HOUZAN MAHMOUD: Yes, that’s true. Just last week.

AMY GOODMAN: So who has issued this fatwa, and how do you know it was?

HOUZAN MAHMOUD: Yeah, I received an email, and the email said that “You will be killed by middle of March, because you have been campaigning against Islam.” And it says Ansar al-Islam, which is a notoriously Islamist jihadist group based in Kurdistan. And they've been infamous, basically, for killing and beheading people in the villages in Kurdistan.

AMY GOODMAN: You're originally from Kurdistan in northern Iraq.


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