Our only hope is in a cultural and political revolution: The International Women’s Day celebration this year coincides with the tenth anniversary of the tragic attack of the US war-machine on millions of unsuspecting Iraqi civilians, causing one of the biggest human crises of modern times, under the pretext of liberating Iraq and the women and men of Iraq. It is noteworthy that the war was launched as a result of the biggest lie of pursuing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This is a lie which should be punishable with the verdict of having committed a war crime, and being held accountable for genocide of Iraqis during ten years and responsible for future mass deaths due to contamination of the environment, in addition to the people’s sufferings under political chaos which may take another decade to settle.
Iraqi women have witnessed all kinds of crimes and grievances which accompany all wars; first of which is the loss of 10% of the Iraqi female population’s husbands and fathers, leaving more than 3 million women and girls with no source of income or protection, thereby turning them into a helpless population which is deprived of all components of human dignity. In result, 3 million widows and female orphans of war are currently vulnerable to being exploited by the human beasts which were raised inside the green zone to enjoy the riches of Iraq, while depriving the 99% of resources and making sure to trample upon the human dignity of a female population who became victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation, polygamy, and religious pleasure marriages.
As for the women who were fortunate to be surrounded by some social protection or source of income, they still only enjoy a second class citizen status, under the valid laws of honor killing, wife battering, unequal inheritance, and unequal testimony in court. Moreover, ten years of occupation allowed and actually encouraged political Islam to poison and brainwash the society through tens of television stations into a state of fanatic misogyny, promoting a life-style where women are merely servants, breeders, and home keepers with no mention of civil rights as full citizen. On the contrary, new fear of femmephobia was introduced into the society, where females will always be doubted as the source of sin and indecency, like a beast in need of taming to be domesticated and accept the life of slaves in prisons. Moreover, the same media outlets program females to defend their newly found slavery as a source of pride and a benefit which no other societies can offer.
The Iraqi society has undergone political turbulence for many consecutive months where huge demonstrations are demanding an end to sectarian oppression which is practiced by the ruling political Islam Shia parties. And the current situation has created unprecedented tensions, making it very hard for the government to maintain a strong grip on a big part of Iraq. In spite of the attempts of terrorists of both sides to get a foot-hold in the huge demonstrations, the main character of the demonstrations is representative of fair demands of the people to put an end to sectarian discrimination and oppression. It was honorable for the mass demonstrations to have started over the primary demand of releasing female prisoners of the Sunni sect, as the issue was previously a taboo which could not have been addressed publicly in the previous years.
In parallel, Iraqi women express their objections to discriminatory practices individually and in groups. The times of women’s second-rate status begins to reach its end. They express resistance and dissent to rules of discrimination in different way. Young women escape forced marriages, or wives refuse to submit to further “legal” battering by husbands, while female students and public workers dress in feminine and elegant modern clothing against the regulations forwarded by the misogynist Islamist Minister of Women. All these examples are not an expression of “perverted” women’s desires – as the tribal patriarchs would like to portray them. These are all means of expressing women’s resistance to be treated anything less than equals to their fellow men, which is only expected in the times of revolutions of the Arab Spring. Just as the women participated in revolutions of changing the society in the Arab world, their own cultural and political revolution begins its first serious steps towards changing the society into a fair and egalitarian one. OWFI continues to organize a feminist base until it grows into a giant movement which expresses the real numbers of oppressed women and rejects any further legislation and practices of discrimination and degrading women. Thus we call on the women of Iraq to take part in the struggles organized to change the prevailing culture through a social and political revolution towards equality, supported by egalitarians, socialists, and freedom-loving seculars and the society at large.
The coming years will witness the growth of an army of women who reject misogynist oppression of tribal, religious and political nature, thus creating a model of revolutionary feminist struggle, and only then will Iraqi not be thought of as a mere victim of devastation under US occupation and a model of corruption under the newly built government of Iraq.
Long live March 8 the symbols of our struggles for freedom and equality.