Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Helping Iraq's Women

With Iraq being such a clusterfuck, it is easy to fall prey to pessimism and despair when it comes to the deteriorating state of women's rights in that country.

One resource for at least prodding our own government to act is the U.S. State Department's Office of Women's Issues. I just sent them largely the same e-mail as I sent to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The Office does have an Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative. You can e-mail the Office of Women's Issues at Of course, I will post any reply I receive from them.

But if you are interested in helping women through organizations that work directly in Iraq, there is the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (or OWFI). The organization was founded by Yanar Mohammed, who is profiled in this CNN article. There is also a link to a video on CNN's web site about her, though be forewarned that it opens with footage of a 17 year old girl who was stoned to death by an angry mob.

OWFI is a sister organization of MADRE, which has a position paper on "honor killings" here. The organization is very left wing in its politics, which for some might be a turn off. It considers the U.S. invasion of Iraq to be illegal and that:

"US actions have caused a sharp rise in "honor crimes." The US destroyed the Iraqi state, leaving people more reliant on conservative tribal authorities to settle disputes and mete out "justice," including "honor killings." The occupation has empowered extreme social conservatives, who exploited both the power vacuum created by the invasion and a climate of rising poverty, violence, and insecurity to impose a reactionary social agenda, including support for "honor crimes." Although the US is obligated as the occupying power to protect Iraqis’ human rights, including the prevention and prosecution of "honor crimes," it has not done so. In fact, the US appointed reactionary leaders who condone "honor crimes" to the Iraqi Governing Council in 2003."

OWFI has five shelters throughout Iraq "to protect women whose lives are threatened by abuse, including women who have been targeted for murder in the name of “honor." If you would like to offer financial support for OWFI's efforts, you can do so here. As I come across any other organizations in Iraq and elsewhere that are dedicated to empowering women in reactionary Muslim countries and combatting "honor killings," I will bring them to your attention in future posts.


tina FCD said...

Hi, found this recently...I hope the link works..?

Tommykey said...

Thanks for the link Tina.

As the article goes to show, this is not just a Muslim thing.

It's kind of bizarre because in some cultures, you are expected to marry someone from your village, and with the group in this article, they are expected not to.