The situation of women in Iraq has become utterly shocking. I have said many times that it feels as if we are living in an upside-down world. And that world is increasingly dangerous. It is heartbreaking to me to see the return of extreme, anti-women practices that we had not seen for many decades. When I grew up in Iraq, women went to school. Educated, professional working women were a part of our society. Today, a woman risks her life simply by going to the grocery store.
Our lives have been ripped from us. In recent months, as the civil war has escalated, violence against women has grown to epidemic levels. Public executions of women are now common. A colleague of mine recently saw a young woman dragged from her house by members of a militia. She was dragged with a cable around her neck to the local football field, beaten, and hung from the goal post, and then machine-gunned many times. Her brother who tried to intervene was also shot.
In our estimation, no less than 30 women are executed monthly by militias in Baghdad and its suburbs. In the first ten days of November 2006, more than 150 unclaimed bodies of women, many of which were beheaded, disfigured, or bore signs of extreme torture, moved through the Baghdad morgue. I don't tell you this to shock you, but to show you the reality we are dealing with in my homeland. The Islamist militias, who are part of the US-supported government and police forces, are deciding what is right and wrong ... and who lives and dies. And women's lives are not of value to them.
OWFI's work in Iraq is more important now than ever. As the situation for women in Iraq worsens with increased sectarian violence, it's increasingly urgent that we stand strong. And we will! In the coming weeks and months, we will continue our vital programs to save lives and inspire hope.
Through our women's shelters in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Erbil, and Nasariyeh, we reach out to women and help them escape the threat of "honor killings" and domestic and sectarian violence. Recently, a woman came to the shelter because she is a Sunni married to a Shiite. One of her husband's brothers threatened to kill him unless he divorced her. So she was put out on the street. If she had not found her way to the shelter, she would more than likely have been killed. We must continue to do everything we can to keep our doors open to all who need us.
OWFI publishes a newspaper called Equality to spread the word about the situation in our country, and to let women know that they can turn to us for assistance. And with MADRE's help we've started an Underground Railroad for Iraqi Women—a network of safe places that are used to help women escape life-threatening situations and find safety.
I am incredibly grateful and deeply moved to know that there are people in the United States who are standing with us in this struggle. I hope you will continue to stand with us during these dark days. Please, do whatever you can to help. Share this report with others. Tell them what we are going through. Call on your government to end its war. And if at all possible, please continue to support our work with financial contributions.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
Thanks to 226 donors like you, a total of $21,500 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving.
Still want to help?
Support another project run by MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org. that needs your help, such as: