Freedom and Equality Remain The Aim Of Our Struggles: Letter From An Iraqi Feminist Activist

Posted by Yanar Mohammed

After seven years of occupation, women in Iraq still suffer from insecurity and outrageous misogynist practices of the Islamist and nationalist ruling militias. The multiplying anti-women media of the ruling militias attempt to abort all our modern achievements for women's rights. Their media shows women who veil their presence from the society with ragged historic wear, thus announcing their total submission to the newly created male-chauvinist culture in Iraq.

New anti-women barbaric practices thrived in these years. Mass killings of the unveiled, the working, and the educated women became part of the political agenda of the religious militias. While we have no regional precedents of systemic mass killings in the history of the Middle-East, the only references are the inquisition campaigns of the European church of the medieval ages where women and scientists were accused of heresy and killed in big numbers. In spite of killing thousands of women, the religious militias were rewarded recently with a fair share of the power; this being a function of the so called democracy under occupation.

Women's hopes rise with the arrival of March 8 as a symbol of free people's struggle for equality and for ending discrimination against women. This day is an event of the leftists, the socialists and freedom-loving movements. Women in Iraq get assured that their rights progress hand in hand with the strength of the movements of freedom, of the left, and of socialism.

During six years, the occupation forces persisted to empower reactionary movements in Iraq; waking up priests of superstitions from deep sleep and awarding them the right to represent millions of non-suspecting people in Iraq. They were supported into organized groups and political parties under the pretext of so called "freedoms of religions and religious practice". Instead of inviting youth into realms of education, culture, arts and political awareness in the new Iraq, they encouraged and sometimes forced their indulgence in the practice of religious rituals. With this process, a mainstream plot flowed against all directions of freedom and equality in all economic, political and social spheres.

Today, women in Iraq are victims of the domination of political Islam and the nationalist-Islamists. Both were welcome through wide open doors of the occupation forces. Women are the victims of American policies and strategies which assisted the Islamists, the sectarian, and the male-chauvinist nationalists – the oppressors of womankind - to become the rulers and have the upper hand on the Iraqi society. Six years of unprecedented enslavement of women brought about widespread humiliation, slaughtering, and home confinement for millions of women. The new constitution established laws of humiliation for women through allowing polygamist marriages in addition to many of the middle age practices. Moreover, a growing female population can find no way out of being trafficked into sexual slavery and becoming modern-day slaves. Furthermore, the lack of basic services such as water and electricity and the rocketing prices of family-living requirements have turned lives of women into daily hell. All of this happens while the authorities announce a budget surplus of tens of billions of dollars which merely fills the pockets of the ruling bourgeoisie.

The occupation forces and their assisting political Islam groups have maintained the oppression of women in all forms and levels in the last six years, in actions which put obstacles against the building of a vast social movement of feminism. Nevertheless, women activists, freedom-lovers and socialists never ceased their defense of women's rights. The lack of a strong leftist political movement, which can defeat the Islamists and the reactionary, left women's struggles for freedom alone and isolated in the political scene. As the occupation gave way to the religious, the nationalists, and the tribals, women were discouraged and intimidated from rising and demanding their rights. In Iraq of today, women cannot grant their right to life under the ruling groups who unite around misogyny and male fascism which dwell on humiliating women and killing them if they challenge male supremacy. When these groups enroll women in their ranks for election purposes, their hatred for women does not become less. Their female representatives become live expression of women's oppression in their appearance and eventually in their male-fascist announced agenda.

OWFI endeavored to change the lives of hundreds of women in Iraq throughout these years, instead of empty rhetoric. Tens were saved from honour killing. Girls and women were saved and sheltered away from trafficking, and from sectarian vengeance. Those who dreamt of an alternative to their daily humiliation in prostitution found refuge in OWFI's shelters. We have announced our campaign of anti-trafficking, knowing that the authorities will only censor us from their misogynist media, and from their public spaces. We also expected them to assign female representatives to offend us in public fora, locally and internationally.

OWFI will keep on raising the flagpole of March 8 as a symbol of freedom and equality. We also invite all freedom-lovers to join our ranks for realizing a better world of freedom and equality.

Long live March 8 the International Women's Day. Long live freedom and equality.

Yanar Mohammed President, Organization for Women's Freedom In Iraq

 
 

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