by Souad N. Al-Azzawi
(Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering and Member BRussells, Tribunal, Baghdad, Iraq )
Global Research, January 13, 2008
For centuries, Iraqi women struggled for their human rights. It wasn't until the 1960's that some improvements in constitutional women's rights were implemented. During the seventies and eighties, women's rights improved significantly, providing better educational opportunities, political involvement, equal job opportunities, health care and development of laws and regulations to ensure a better life for Iraqi women and girls.
Deterioration of women's rights in Iraq began during the US-UN comprehensive economical sanctions imposed on Iraqi during the nineties. In 2003, the invasion of Iraq by the USA and its allies resulted in the descent of the rights of women just like other elements in Iraqi society, infrastructure and the general quality of life.
To define the extent of the USA occupation impact on women's rights and living conditions, a survey composed of 21 questions was distributed in two major cities:
Inside Baghdad, Iraq in the Karada District, and
Kudsiya area in Damascus, Syria where more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees live.
The 150 women who answered the survey were a part of 150 families or households composed of a total of 502 Iraqis.
Statistical analysis of the questions of the survey indicated dangerous trends in the security status that drove Iraqi women out of their jobs, where 85% of the studied women are unemployed (taking into consideration that the large majority of this percentage have a formal education). The study also indicated that 36% of the studied families lived with no income or a very low income of $100/month or less which has lead to women and children doing menial labor or begging. Also, it was found that 87 families have a victim of either occupation forces or sectarian violence. The mortality rate among this targeted displaced population is 193 per 1000. this high mortality rate is an indication of genocide existing amongst the migrated and displaced population. Missing family members rate at 12.7, and it is also estimated that 20% of the students of the studied women's families are having difficulties and failing schools. A percentage of other students quit school altogether.
The occupation is totally responsible for the deterioration and destruction of women's lives and rights in Iraq. Iraqi women under occupation need the help of their sisters in international women's organizations abroad to help protect them and protect their rights. They also have the right to resist the occupier in every way available to reclaim their lost lives and ensure a better life for themselves and their families.....
The major conclusion is that the USA occupation of Iraq has intentionally created a catastrophic collapse in the social interrelated structure, infrastructure services, education and healthcare system, and security. All of which have a direct detrimental impact on women's living conditions and women's rights in Iraq. The occupation of Iraq has taken women back to the dark ages. By ending the occupation, Iraqi women have a better chance to earn back what they previously accomplished."