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Saturday, March 23, 2013

U.S. “liberates” by fueling Iraqi women’s oppression

Organization of
Women's Freedom
in Iraq
Yifat Susskind of MADRE, Yanar Mohammed of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq this week penned “A Decade of Occupation for Iraqi Women”
Excerpt, editing by Carolyn Bennett

Endlessly repetitive U.S. pattern
Interminable consequences against women

The authors of this article point out what is obvious to any sane person, in or outside the line of fire: women in war zones anywhere in the world will tell you that domestic violence increases in times of war.

Shock and Awethe taking of life
U.S. in Iraq
But in Iraq, conditions for women are worsened by the endlessness of war, even after the war pronounced over. In Iraq, the authors report, “violence against women is systematic.” 

iolence against women in Iraq “has been orchestrated by some of the very forces that the United States boosted to power: … sectarian militias and clerics [with] a social vision for their country that depends on subjugating women.”

“Liberators'” bargain with slavers

Wagering that fundamentalists “could deliver stability,” the United States “cultivated these [fundamentalists] as allies in Iraq,” Yifat Susskind and Yanar Mohammed write.

Women - Muslim 
Women - Bahrain
Women - International
“In the drafting of Iraq’s constitution ─ heavily brokered by the United States ─ the dynamic was clearly at work. To pass it, the United States needed support from Islamist parties and they got it by trading away women’s rights. The current constitution is a huge step backwards for Iraqi women. It replaces one of the Middle East’s most expansive laws on the status of women, dating from 1959, with separate and unequal laws on the basis of sex. They subjected Iraqi women to a newly introduced Sharia law promoted in an article in the new constitution.”
Women - Gaza

The consequence, Susskind and Mohammed write, is that the invaders and occupiers “never even got the stability for which they had traded women’s rights.”

[Observe a singular U.S. pattern playing out in Libya, in Syria, in Yemen, in Bahrain, in Saudi Arabia, in eastern Africa, and elsewhere.] 
Women - Congo
What do Iraqi women want?
What all women want: Equal Rights guaranteed, protected, enforced in law 

The women of Iraq “are fighting for the same democratic principles we all believe in,” Mohammed and Susskind write. “They know from hard experience that there is no democracy without women’s rights and that ─

Women - America
… Women’s rights will not be delivered by foreign troops.

The women of Iraq having been subjected to war and violence for the past 10 years “want to move beyond mere survival and to build the country they dream of.”

Organization of Women's Freedom
in Iraq
n another context a few years ago, Yanar Mohammed, Iraq’s most prominent feminist and a staunch critic of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, was quoted urging U.S. troops to get out of her country immediately because ─

Yanar Mohammed
We the people of Iraq do not agree that all the jihadists from around the world are coming to Iraq to fight this so-called U.S. evil; our cities are turning into a [theater of battle] and all our lives are being devastated.

U.S. troops need to leave immediately, with no conditions. We do not accept the debate that there will be a bloodbath afterwards because nothing is worse than the sectarian war that we are living right now ─ also a consequence of this war.

Sources and notes

“A Decade of Occupation for Iraqi Women ─ A decade after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, only one of the straw-man arguments for going to war remains standing: ‘We did it for democracy and women’s rights’  Yanar Mohammed and Yifat Susskind), March 20, 2013,

Also at http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/19-6

Yanar Mohammed
Prominent Iraqi feminist Yanar Mohammed is co-founder and director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and editor of the newspaper Al-Mousawat (Equality).

Yanar Mohammed was born in Baghdad (1960) and returned there in 2003. Upon her return to Iraq, she founded several groups to promote women’s rights in post-Saddam Iraq. Two of those organizations were the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Committee for the Defense of Iraqi Women’s Rights (DIWR).

Her feminist newsletter Al-Mousawat is described as ‘a platform of fearless feminism against Islamic fundamentalism and tribal patriarchal tendencies”; and a chronicler of various violations and atrocities against women as the result of war. The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, which she founded in 2003, has been active in supporting women’s rights in the post U.S.-led invasion.  Yanar Mohammed’s work with the group gained her a Gruber Foundation Women’s Rights Prize in 2008.

She has been a strong critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, suggesting that the “‘U.S. occupation turned the streets of Iraq into a ‘no-women zone.’” She has also spoken of conditions in Iraq as “a false choice” between occupation and political Islam: “‘…The American occupation willing to do genocide; or political Islam forcing [Iraqi women] to live a completely inhuman and un-liberated way of life.’…

 ‘U.S. troops should leave immediately because we, the people of Iraq, do not agree that all the jihadists from around the world are coming to Iraq to fight this so-called U.S. evil; our cities are turning into a [theater of battle] and all our lives are being devastated.

‘U.S. troops need to leave immediately, with no conditions. We do not accept the debate that there will be a bloodbath afterwards because nothing is worse than the sectarian war that we are living right now ─ also a consequence of this war.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanar_Mohammed
Yifat Susskind
Yifat Susskind is a writer and analysis and the executive director of MADRE. She works with women’s human rights activists from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa to create programs in their communities to address women’s health, violence against women, economic and environmental justice and peace building. http://www.madre.org/index/meet-madre-1/who-we-are-49/staff--board-162.html


MADRE has in 28 years built a network of community-based women’s organizations worldwide. Its network encompasses thousands of women and families who are on the frontlines of our global crisis: in Sudan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala, Kenya, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Palestine, Afghanistan, Bolivia, and elsewhere. The programs fall into categories of peace building, women’s health and combating violence against women, and economic and environmental justice. http://www.madre.org/index/meet-madre-1.html

Women who come together through MADRE are survivors of war, political repression, genocide, economic and sexual exploitation, and the twin burdens of natural disaster and disastrous policies. Yet they have refused to give in to despair. Instead, they have organized with MADRE to build programs that meet urgent needs in their communities and create lasting solutions to the crises they confront.

MADRE has historically partnered with sister organizations based in areas not necessarily highlighted below: our sister organizations highlighted in the upcoming pages are those MADRE has the honor to work with currently.

MADRE’s Sister Organizations:
Colombia: Taller de Vida | LIMPAL
Guatemala: Women Workers' Committee | Muixil
Iraq: The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq
Kenya: Indigenous Information Network  | Womankind Kenya
Nicaragua: Wangki Tangni | CADAMUC | REDTRANS
Palestine: Midwives for Peace | The Palestinian Medical Relief Society | Zakher Association
Sudan: Zenab for Women in Development
International: International Indigenous Women's Forum


Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women: http://www.worldpulse.com/ http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire http://www.facebook.com/#!/bennetts2ndstudy

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