Iraqi Women Council Members and Officers Face Discrimination

Iraqi women continue to face discrimination in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. Only three Iraqi women were appointed to Iraq’s Governing Council and none serve on the constitutional committee. Dr. Raja Khuzai, a female member of the Governing Council, states that men avert their eyes when she talks and the leaders ignore her reports. They even wait until the female council members have left the room to make important votes, reports the Rocky Mountain News. In addition, one of the three female members of the council who was a champion of women’s rights was killed this past fall. She was replaced when the two remaining female members were out of the country. The replacement, Salama Khufaji, is described by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as being “ultra-conservative,” angering women’s rights advocates.

According to Rocky Mountain News, when the adviser on human rights issues for the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority, Salwa Ali, tried to be a part of the local elections in Baghdad she found that the neighborhood was plastered with fliers stating that women were not allowed.

Female Iraqi officers working at the Bashma border crossing are also facing discrimination. According to the Washington Post, female officers are told that they are shameful and that “women were created for being in the house” while they patrol the border crossing. The women serve alongside a men’s unit and their duties include searching people, for the most part women, and helping the men’s unit search vehicles.

The Bush Administration pledged support for the inclusion of women in decision-making bodies in Iraq. However, with only three women currently on the Iraqi Governing Council, only one woman on the Iraqi cabinet, and no women appointed to the 24-member constitutional committee, advocates for Iraqi women argue they are not being included in the building of a civil society in their country.

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Rocky Mountain News 12/26/03; Washington Post 1/03/03

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