This Is Freedom On The March

It’s very hard for me to be anything but cynical when I read news about the new Iraqi constitution:

If ever the women of Iraq needed support from the international community, the UN, and, in particular, the UK government, it is now. With only two weeks until the country’s draft constitution is due to be ready (the deadline is August 15) who else can help Iraqi women to prevent the total erosion of their human rights – rights they have enjoyed, in a secular state, since 1959?

Tony Blair, who continues to justify the invasion of the country as the only means to topple a brutal dictatorship and help to establish democracy, now has an obligation to use all his powers to avert a new dictatorship in Iraq – that of the mullahs over women.

The unparalleled violence of the past 30 years – three wars, the horrors perpetrated by Saddam Hussein and the killings of thousands of Iraqi civilians since the occupation – have meant the majority of the Iraqi population is female. Furthermore, it is estimated that more than 60% of this majority are female heads of households, as widows or wives of the “disappeared”. There is barely a family that does not have its unprecedented share of widows and single women. And it is these women who must shoulder the sole responsibility for raising the next generation, the orphans and children, and caring for the wounded, sick, elderly and traumatised. Apart from considerations of humanity and human rights, the future of Iraq will depend greatly on its women, many of whom, in the hitherto secular state, are well-educated professionals and a key resource in the reconstruction of the economy as well as the social fabric of communities.

Read the Guardian article here.

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