Report Finds Iraqi Women No Better Off

Iraqi women are no better off now than they were under the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein according to a report released on Monday by Amnesty International. Nearly two years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the report, “‘Iraq: Decades of Suffering,” asserts that although the brutal oppression of women under Hussein has ended, there has been an increase in murder and sexual abuse.

While President Bush promised a democratic Iraq free of oppression, the report contends that postwar insecurity has continued to leave women at risk of violence and without freedoms, reports Reuters. “Since the 2003 war,” the report states, “women’s rights activists and political leaders have been threatened by armed groups and a number have been killed…Gender discrimination in Iraqi laws contributes to the persistence of violence against women.” Amnesty International also charges that Iraqi women have been at risk of abuse by US led forces. The report states that several women detainees have “reported beatings, threats of rape, humiliating treatment and long periods of solitary confinement” after their release from detention. Amnesty International, joined by women’s rights organizations, has stressed the need for US-led multinational forces to improve safeguards for women in detention, and to investigate the alleged abuses.

In a press release on Tuesday, Abdel Salam Sidahmed, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program said, “Iraqi authorities must introduce concrete measures to protect women…Most importantly, they must ensure that the new constitution and all Iraqi legislation contain prohibitions to redress all forms of discrimination and gender-based violence against women.”

Zainab Salbi, Women for Women International’s founder and CEO, said, “History has shown that when women play a role in the formation of new governments, those nations are more stable and more successful in the long run,” according to Salon.com. A recent survey conducted by Women for Women International found that high percentages of Iraqi women look forward to having part in the reconstruction of Iraq, reports Salon.com.

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Amnesty International Press Release 2/22/05, Amnesty International Report 2/22/05, Reuters 2/22/05, Salon.com 2/22/05

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