Friday, February 18, 2005

Women in Iraq and Afghanistan

Things don't look good for many Iraqi women, especially the educated and the secular ones. Most signs point towards at least some modified form of theocracy, and women tend to be losers under such systems. Just look at Iran next door. Here is a comment by an Iraqi woman in exile:

I am an Iraqi woman, and I am boycotting the elections. Women who do vote will be voting for an enslaved future. Surely, say those who support these elections, after decades of tyranny, here at last is a form of democracy, imperfect, but democracy nevertheless?

In reality, these elections are, for Iraq's women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and U.S.-led military assaults since Saddam Hussein's fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women's empowerment.

Indeed. Rather, the opposite is true: that the role of women as the repository of family and tribal honor will be most important for the men who have just seen their own honor tarnished by foreign invaders, and such repositories must be carefully guarded and restricted.

It is ironic, isn't it, that George Bush tells the world how he is bringing freedom to Iraq, all the time ignoring that the majority of Iraqis will not be any freer than in the past (women are the majority of Iraqi citizens)? Or perhaps I am wrong about my dire predictions concerning the future of Iraqi women. I sincerely hope so, especially as I marched against the war largely for the very reason that I didn't want to see another misogynistic country created.

In Afghanistan, women's lives are perhaps somewhat better, though formal measures of equality may not be very precise in this context. Keeping this in mind, it is interesting to read that:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will appoint a female provincial governor for the first time in Afghanistan's history. Karzai will be choosing the governor of the central Bamiyan province from a short list of all-female candidates that includes the former Minister of Women's Affairs, Habiba Sorabi, reports the Associated Press.

Many see the appointment of a female governor as a positive step towards promoting women's rights in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, Karzai appointed three women to his newly formed Cabinet that consists of 30 people.

In fact, the Afghanistan parliament has more women than the U.S. Congress, though this is due to the quotas that were set for women's participation in the former country. The latter country cannot possibly have quotas: that would smack of communism. Unless we mean the common informal quota of regarding one or two women as an adequate number for female representation on all kinds of boards.
The first link via dailyKos diaries.