With all the doom and gloom coming out of Iraq, it’s hard to keep track of all the “compromises” and “good work” and “freedom building” that is being done to the Iraqi people. In this particular case women and their status under the new Constitution.

It ain’t pretty. Once the most secular nation in the Arabic middle-east, Iraq is now being turned to sharia law and women’s rights and freedoms, once enjoyed openly are under attack.

But issues affecting at least half of Iraq’s population, which is female, are unresolved. Negotiated largely by three religious parties — the Shiite-dominated Islamic Dawa Party and Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, and the Sunnis’ Iraqi Islamic Party — the constitution would make sharia the basis of national legislation, leaving women vulnerable to the Islamic-law interpretations of a conservative clergy.

“There’s little talk about it because women have already lost,” says Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan who has studied the draft constitution.


Yanar Mohammed, Toronto-based head of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, says there will be no question of women living by secular rules when the constitution is passed.

“The first part of the constitution, called `principles,’ determines that sharia will be the foundation of every law written in the constitution, and anything that contradicts it will not be allowed,” she says.

Of course Bush says the US stands for women’s rights, but perhaps only if it doesn’t conflict with religious freedom?

“We stand for religious freedom and freedom to speak, and women’s rights and capacity for people to realize their dreams,” he said.

It would appear so…

Mohammed, who has just returned from Iraq, says most women there can no longer dress in Western styles, and going without a veil in public is no longer an option.

“They are frequently harassed,” she says of women in the post-Saddam era. “Their lives are restricted in ways they have not been used to.”


Mohammed says the die is already cast for Iraqi women’s rights — and for the future of democracy in the beleaguered country.

“We used to have a government that was almost secular. It had one dictator, and now we have almost 20. Most of them are mullahs who think of women as forces of evil.

Of course I’m not surprised, the neocons are always willing to trade women’s rights, equal rights and freedoms for their own narrow gain and dogma, but I haven’t heard one Democrat say this is unacceptable for Iraqi women and NOT what a democracy is about… of course the US didn’t have the right to impose by the barrel of gun, “democracy” on Iraqi’s to begin with, but the lack of outrage as to what is happening to women in that country is inexcusable on the part of Democrats. Jesus freakin’ Buddha opposition party, the situation over there is so fucked up that it is turning into a theocracy on the verge of civil war and you aren’t hammering Bush and Rumsfeld about it on a daily basis? Proposing solutions? Talking about equal rights and justice?

And so it goes… the Dems don’t speak out about women’s rights in Iraq for the same reason they are willing to compromise with the anti-choice fundamentalists… we are all expendable in the name of corporations and power, some of us noticeably more so.

Toronto Star

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