Iraqi Women in Their Own Words: Life is 'Just Like Being in Jail'
On Friday, I interviewed Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who has spent a total of eight months in Iraq over the past three years. He says it's too dangerous to return; to his knowledge, very few Western reporters leave the Green Zone for fear of being killed. The interviews in this story by the Washington Post's Nancy Trejos were definitely conducted unembedded and outside the Green Zone.
History doesn't mean much to the majority of the media, especially the war cheerleaders. In Trejos's story, she includes a very important piece of history that should not be forgotten:
For much of the 20th century, and under various leaders, Iraq was one of the most progressive Middle Eastern countries in terms of its treatment of women, who were encouraged to go to school and enter the workforce. Saddam Hussein's Baath Party espoused a secular Arab nationalism that advocated women's full participation in society. But years of war changed that.What is life like today in Iraq?
In the days after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, many women were hopeful that they would enjoy greater parity with men. President Bush said that increasing women's rights was essential to creating a new, democratic Iraq.Here are a few quotes from Iraqi women:
But interviews with 16 Iraqi women, ranging in age from 21 to 52, show that much of that postwar hope is gone. The younger women say they fear being snatched on their way to school and wonder whether their college degrees will mean anything in the new Iraq. The older women, proud of their education and careers, are watching their independence slip away.
"For a woman, it's just like being in jail. I can't go anywhere. We're suffering right now. The war took all our rights. We're not free because of terrorism."
-Zahra Khalid, 30
"There's no chance to build our future."
-Aseel Bahjet, 23
"I consider myself and my daughters liberated women. We go out and walk in the street. That was last year even. But this year, it's more difficult. Every day, it's worse than the day before."
-Muna Nouri, 52, a high school teacher
"It's become so bad that a woman who drives a car will be slaughtered, and a woman who doesn't put a scarf on her hair will be slaughtered."
-Bushra Shimirya, 42