The US-led invasion on Iraq in 2003 was based on establishing democracy and removing dictatorial regime. However the contemporary situation suggests that Iraq democracy is still a distant dream.
The winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize are two astonishing activists, one a Yazidi woman and survivor of sexual assault from Iraq, the other a Congolese gynecologist from the Congo. Nadia Murad survived a massacre of her village in northern Iraq and was enslaved, assaulted and raped repeatedly. She survived and has come out of her ordeal and worked tirelessly to help thousands of other victims like her. Such developments gave the hope of Iraq democracy however if we analyze the ground reality it has actually worsened the scenario.
Denis Mukwego is a doctor who has treated literally thousands of women in the DRC, attacked, assaulted and raped, used as weapons of war. He, together with some astonishing women, created the ‘town’, the City of Joy pushing Iraq democracy.
Both these Nobel peace prize winners have brought huge coverage to the atrocities of war and violence against women. And yet, the atrocities against women continue.
The current Iraq democracy most recently witnessed, two prominent women, a human rights defender, and a social media star, shot dead in the streets, assassinated in the middle of the day. Nobody has been found responsible for the deaths of Suad al-Ali I and Tara Fares in Baghdad.
Iraq democracy is still a dream. And these deaths cannot be separated from the aftermath of the US-led invasion on Iraq in 2003 The US invasions began a cycle of violence where fragment groups formed, militias, including ISIS and today, IS. The war against IS has meant further militarization in Iraq, with more political groups, paramilitary forces, and militias being armed.
None of this has been good for women.
In July 2017 two Iraqi beauticians were kidnapped, tortured and killed, also in Baghdad. Rasha al-Hassan and Rafif al-Yasiri were young, beautiful and living their lives. The murder of Tara Fares, a social media star, is a similar murder.
The assassination of 22-year-old Tara Fares may bring to mind the death of two Iraqi Hamudi al-Mutayri was stabbed to death in Baghdad, perhaps for being gay.
These are just a few of the recent deaths. There have been many and one only needs to listen to Novel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad’s story, to know.
Zahra Ali has written a book, ‘Women and Gender in Iraq,’ which shows how the rise of conservative and religious extreme behavior in Iraq goes back to the 2003 war, and to the humanitarian crisis started by the UN sanctions in the 1990s. Sanctions altered the very fabric of Iraqi society, creating new patriarchies, new politicized groups and more armed men, everywhere.
The work of the UN and the American invasion and what they left behind, tatters, strengthened the patriarchy in Iraq. At the same time, the fight between the Shiite Islamists and the Sunni became extreme, with women being perceived as the lesser of two genders. After the Iraq invasion, brutal accounts of war amongst tribal and cultural groups became evident, without repercussion, investigation or blame.
Iraq democracy is still a dream and women in Iraq are still the victims.
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