Despite Attacks and Threats, Iraqi Women Push For Rights

Iraqi women continue to be targets of Islamic extremism. According to the Washington Times, women have been threatened and in some cases killed for working outside of the home and for refusing to cover themselves with the black abaya. Heather Coyne of the United States Institute of Peace reports that she knows of cases where female leaders were abducted from their homes and others threatened with death for wearing Western clothing.

Women for Women International’s Iraq director, Manal Omar, said “many professional women have stopped working. They are being forced to stay home” pointing to the murder of a female news anchor and the kidnapping of a woman who was politically active in Baghdad’s local governing council. Omar personally knew of an Iraqi woman who was shot to death outside of her home for being politically active in her local community.

Meanwhile, despite these attacks on women, Narmin Othman the Minister of State for Women is working to get more women involved in politics by holding an all-female “national assembly” that will work to name twenty-five women to be advisors at the Ministry of State for Women. An advisor to the Ministry of Municipalities and Public World asserts that “this is the only opportunity for us to change. If we don’t have a base for women to become important figures in government, later it will be hard to push our way in,” reports IRIN News.

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Sources: IRIN News 11/9/04; The Washington Times 11/12/04

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