2005 July 06 Wednesday
Acid Attacks Against Untented Women Rising In Iraq

Attackers are throwing acid on women in Iraq who are not totally covered by abayas and other cloaks.

Witnesses in the district where the attack happened, said that for more than two weeks, women have been targeted by acid attackers for dressing immodestly. Sometimes the assailants spray or throw the acid on foot, or on occasion, from a moving car. Other attacks have been even more shocking.

Women could wear Western style clothing without being attacked during Saddam's reign.

During Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraqi women were more or less free to wear what they wanted. In the 1980s Iraq was considered one of the most Western countries in the region in terms of fashion.

Some women are defiant.

"I won’t force myself to use something that I don’t feel comfortable with. Women in Iraq are losing their place in society and we have to fight that and determine who we are and how we should dress, despite these dangers," Hiba Zuheir, 24, a resident of Mansour district, said.

This problem goes a lot deeper than the insurgency. Saddam held back the more fundamentalist segments of Iraq's Muslim population. Now they are no longer restrained by a totalitarian state and they are trying to force all of Iraq's people to live according to their beliefs.

A Christian woman in Mosul is targetted for her clothing.

The phone calls that Miriem Ishaq, a Christian lawyer in this northern Iraqi city, received recently were chilling: wear the veil or face death, she was told. Ishaq knew the threats were serious. A woman she knew personally had been killed during the last Muslim holy month of Ramadan for failing to wear a veil. Then to underline the intimidation, several men attacked Ishaq on her way to work, poured acid on her clothes and spat on her face because she was unveiled. “These attacks have forced hundreds of Christians to wear Islamic veils now,” said Ishaq.

The Iraqi equivalent of the Taliban roams the streets of Iraq's cities.

The intimidation and the attacks have forced other women in Mosul to give up going to work. And outside the home many no longer wear makeup for fear of being attacked by militants. One woman, who used to own a beauty salon, wept as she spoke about having to close it down after being threatened. “"It was a good source of income, and I liked my job in the hairdressing shop,” said Sara, who declined to give her real name. “But a new Taleban movement has turned Iraq into another Afghanistan."

For women this large loss of rights in Iraq looks likely to be long term. Therefore, to argue that the invasion of Iraq freed people in the Western sense of "free" then one must ignore half the population.

Also see my previous posts Position Of Women In Iraq Worsens, Iraqi Women Fearful They Will Lose Rights To Fundamentalists, Islamists And Threat Of Rape Both Fears Of Iraqi Women, and Sharia Family Law Coming To Iraq.

To understand the obsession with veiling see my posts Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development and Pessimists on Muslim Democracy and John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq. Veils are closely linked to the practice of consanguineous (cousin) marriage.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 06 11:10 PM  Mideast Iraq Freedom Rights

Braddock said at July 7, 2005 5:50 AM:

Ah, the sweet nostalgia for the mass grave era of Saddam. Stand by for the echoing "me-too" sycophantic trolls wishing to express their undying devotion for the bygone era of Saddam and the utopias of the past.

You know, London and Madrid never got bombed by muslims while Saddam was in charge. You may have something there, RP.

Randall Parker said at July 7, 2005 9:27 AM:


We invaded Iraq over 2 years ago. Did the death rate in Iraq go down or up since the invasion as compared to the previous 2 years?

As for the mass grave era of Saddam: Leave aside the Iraq-Iran war: How many people did Saddam kill? I figure he killed at least a few thousand. But did he kill tens or hundreds of thousands? If so, can you point me to press reports for mass graves that are that large?

Look, I'm not saying he is not a killer of some large number of people. But if he is then I'm surprised by how few large grave reports have hit the press since we invaded. I want evidence on this assumption one way or another.

raj said at July 7, 2005 12:35 PM:


There are prolly thousands of people who die unnecessarily every week in this world. I guess I am just numb to it all at this point unless I know them personally or somehow am moved by their individual story (rare).

In descending order of importance, I care about:
1) family
2) friends
3) country/ acquaintances- Even if I normally bitch about the US, I live here and need to root for this country to be strong if only to protect my ass.

You'll note I didn't mention the Iraqi people, Abu Ghraib, or Guantanamo. I suspect the vast bulk of the American people feel the same way as me even if they won't admit it. We just have so much sympathy to give and the plight of others (especially those who might hate our guts) is not that important to us.

So, if anyone is going to tell us we need to care about all those poor souls, then lemmy ask what specifically were you doing to help them? Prolly the same as everybody else in America, nothing. And there's nothing wrong with that.


Few are going to argue Iraq has been and unmitigated disaster. Even if we actually establish a 'democracy' there or quell much of the rebellion, the human cost in American lives and the cost to the American taxpayer for helping a possibly unworthy peoples has been far too high already.

What do we do now? I read your site regularly, but if you have past posts specifically addressing an exit strategy, that would be helpful. It seems like there is nothing to do but stay or risk the situation deteriorating further.

Randall Parker said at July 7, 2005 1:09 PM:


Your assumption appears to be that if we withdraw the place will get worse in a way that harms our interests and reduces our security. If so, then why do you think that? What series of events do you fear if we leave?

If you do a google search on "Iraq Partition" you will find my posts as the first result (amazing!) and other writings on the subject. My question is whether we should just unilaterally withdraw or whether we should first help implement a partition (e.g. by supplying the Kurds with more arms).

If we just unilaterally withdraw I figure the Shias will probably come out on top. So Iraq will not become a refuge for Sunni Al Qaeda. Do you see a worse scenario? If so, what?

raj said at July 7, 2005 1:21 PM:

I am afraid that the Shias would eventually be the dominant force in the region but have little to no incentive to stop Al Qada terrorist activities that would eventually target us more than them. Specifically, I could make the analogy of Afghanistan. The Taliban didn't directly oppose us that much but turned a blind eye to Bin Laden's activities which eventually targetted us. I could prolly make a weaker analogy to Sudan, which likely had a role in the first WTC bombings.

We would need some assurances this wouldn't happen in Iraq. Maybe expand our base in Bharain and have tacit support from the different regimes to carry out air strikes if and when we suspect terrorist camps in existence. What people rarely mention about Afghanistan is that we took out a myriad of terrorist camps. That alone likely made our efforts there worth it.

But, I suspect that the human and financial cost will eventually force us to leave and possibly even allow Iraq to be partitioned. It's high time the Republicans started talking more seriously about exit strategy.

Randall Parker said at July 7, 2005 1:32 PM:


First off, the Taliban are Sunnis. So of course they were far more inclined to support Sunni Al Qaeda.

Second, a lot of the jihadis pouring into Iraq are convinced that the Shias are harming the Sunnis and these Jihadis are coming to help their fellow Sunnis against the Shiites. The Shiites are getting daily deadly reminders that the Sunni jihadists want to kill them. I do not expect a Shia dominated government to tolerate Sunni terrorists running around.

But can the Shia dominate the government and build an effective internal intelligence and police apparatus?

See my previous posts Carroll Andrew Morse Addresses Objections To Iraq Partition and Steve Sailer On The Iraq Partition Argument and Jim Hoagland: Sunnis In Iraq See Democracy As A Threat and Unilaterally Withdraw From Iraq Or First Partition? for various thoughts I've had on the subject and arguments from others.

gcochran said at July 7, 2005 2:25 PM:

The death rate has gone up.

Alec Rawls said at July 7, 2005 6:20 PM:

A healthy dose of gun rights in the upcoming constitution, together with a constitutional right to self defense, would cure this problem in a hurry. Men whose object is to lord it over women are particularly deterred by the thought of being shot or chased off by a woman. In Florida, a couple of news stories about a few women carrying guns to shoot would be rapists caused the rape rate for the whole Miami area to all in half. Just think if all the Iraqi women were carrying guns.

Stephen said at July 7, 2005 6:25 PM:

It isn't an uncommon site in the gulf to see arab men driving along and upon seeing a woman on her own, or a woman-only group, shout agressively at them as he drives by. Not speaking the language I can't attest to what they were shouting, but the tone was certainly agressive with sexual overtones. I remember a few occasions when I was sitting next to a national while driving along a city street, suddenly they'd roll down the window and shout at a woman, then roll the window up and calmly continue the conversation. Its on occasions like that that I'd remember - these people aren't wired the same as me.

Stephen said at July 7, 2005 6:28 PM:

Alec, if Iraqi women carried guns, the occupying forces would quickly mow them down - just to be on the safe side.

M.robinson said at July 23, 2005 8:13 AM:

Most Iraqi's carry guns much in the way guns are freely available in the USA, I suspect the acid and full claok threat incidents are more to do with grievances by one party against another but with religion used as a cover to hide their tracks. The majority of muslim women did wear hijab uring the saddam era, While christian denominations did not.

Did you know that Orthodox jewish women also have to cover their hair from non family males and so to by pass this without being too openly seen is they wear wigs outdoors.

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