Iraqi Women Forced to Become Sex Slaves
To think that Bush supporters still believe him when he says the war is "liberating" Iraqi women. I'm sure he'll repeat it again on Tuesday night. Here's one of the many realities facing Iraqi women we rarely, if ever, hear about:
A rise in the incidence of "temporary" marriages among Shi'ite Muslims is causing concern among women's rights activists. According to women's NGOs in the south of the country, more than 300 temporary marriages occur daily in Kerbala, Najaf and Basra, Iraq's three main Shi'ite cities.The new Iraqi constitution, which is being praised by the Bush administration, guarantees freedom of marrage according to religious beliefs.
"The poverty, especially for women who have lost their husbands in the years of war, is the main reason for them accepting such agreements," said Salua Fatihi, head of two non-governmental women's rights organisations in southern Iraq. "It's an easy way to protect their children and put food on the table."
"They [men] use them as sexual objects under the guise of a religious belief," Fatihi added.
According to Shi'ite religious law, unmarried women may enter into temporary marriages for periods ranging from hours to an entire lifetime. A payment is made to the woman, often around US $1,000 or the equivalent in gold.
The practice, known as Muta'a, was banned during the Saddam Hussein regime, but has re-emerged since 2003.
"I've been in a difficult position since my husband died during the war in 2003 and my children were hungry, so I decided to accept this temporary marriage," said Um Hassan, a widow. "I was his sexual slave for one month and than he just said my time had expired and left."
Karima Abbas' marriage lasted less than a week: "He slept with me every day for a week and then went back to his wife, leaving me pregnant without any help," said Abbas.