There have been 48 women killed in six months for “un-Islamic behaviour”. The murders in the teeming southern port of Basra have highlighted the weakness of the security forces and the strength of Islamic militias as Britain prepares to hand over control to Iraqi officials today.
In another case, two teenagers saw a woman beaten to death by five or six men from the Mahdi Army, Basra’s most powerful militia. One picked up a rock and crushed her skull. The teenagers were told that their home and family would be destroyed if they betrayed the killers.
The Bush Administration measures success in Iraq by declines in the total amount of killing. But local monopolies in violence can lower the rate of killing while raising the level of repression and reducing the level of freedom. Bush and company point to the elections and claim that democracy is great. But democracy is making Iraqi women less free than they were under Saddam.
Before the invasion, Iraqi women had rights enshrined in the country's constitution since 1959 that were among the broadest of any Arab or Islamic nation. The new constitution says that women are equal under the law; critics, however, have condemned a provision that says no law can contradict the "established rulings" of Islam as weakening women's rights.
The vigilantes patrol the streets of some cities on motorbikes or in cars with dark-tinted windows and no license plates. They accost or harass women who aren't wearing the traditional robe and head scarf known as the hijab. Religious extremists also have been known to attack men for clothes or even haircuts deemed too Western.
Another woman, a 43-year old Christian housewife, said her family was driven from the city where they had lived for years, and fled to a Christian neighborhood of Baghdad.
"It started last May when gunmen stopped me and my husband as we were walking and asked me about my clothes and why I did not wear the hijab," she said. "Then we were beaten when I told them that we are Christians, and they threatened to kill me if I would not respect Islam in this city."
This time a man in the black clothes of the Shia militia stopped them at the entrance and took them aside. “He said, 'We asked you yesterday to wear a hijab, so why are you and your friends not covering your hair?'. He was talking very aggressively and I was scared,” Zeena recalled.
The girls explained that they were Christians and that their faith did not call for headscarves. “He said: 'Outside this university you are Christian and can do what you want; inside you are not. Next time I want to see you wearing a hijab or I swear to God the three of you will be killed immediately',” Zeena recalled. Terrified, the girls ran home. They now wear the headscarf all the time.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Iraqi government has ordered all policewomen to hand in their guns for redistribution to men or face having their pay withheld, thwarting a U.S. initiative to bring women into the nation's police force.
The Ministry of Interior, which oversees police, issued the order late in November, according to ministry documents, U.S. officials and several of the women.
Serving as a police officer in Iraq is a dangerous job because opponents of the regime kill anyone who works for the regime. Well, a police officer without a gun is an easier target than one with a gun. These women are now in much more danger since they can no longer carry a gun.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2007 December 15 11:24 PM Mideast Iraq Freedom Rights|