Deterioration of Iraqi Women’s Rights and Living Conditions Under Occupation Souad N. Al-Azzawi Associate Professor in Environmental Eng. Baghdad - Iraq
UNESCO : In 1987, 75% of Iraqi women were literate. In 2000, this number dropped to less than 25%.
Iraqi Women Under Occupation The lives of Iraqi women changed drastically after the military operations during the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003… Tens of thousands of Iraqi women, children and men were killed or injured as a result of American military use of conventional and unconventional banned weapons like White Phosphorous, Napalm, Depleted Uranium, Cluster Bombs and chemical agents and gases.
One main example of deterioration of women’s rights under the occupation is the amending of the Personal Status Law and the Constitution:
The new USA-written Iraqi Constitution includes laws and regulations that leave much room for conjecture and interpretation by clerics and religious figures. Bahr Uloom prepares to sign the constitution. (Photo: Reuters)
The occupation is responsible for the deterioration in women’s rights and living environment through the following:
Contrary to Geneva Conventions, Iraqi women are arrested, detained, abused and made to collaborate with the occupying forces and to inform against resistance.
There has been an increase of sexual assaults, torture and violations of women’s rights by US forces in Iraq.
The majority of Iraqi women lost their jobs. Seventy percent of the previously working Iraqi women today are unemployed for various reasons.
Women suffered greatly from loss of their loved ones… (Photo: Reuters) It is estimated that since March 2003, the start of the American invasion, 1, 127, 552 Iraqis have been killed.
The Struggle of Iraqi Women Under the Occupation : Numbers and Statistics
A survey through the sample of the questionnaire shown was conducted.
Selected population for the survey and research:
Iraqi women within families in the largely refugee area of Kudsiya on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria. (80 families were included from this area)
Iraqi women within families in Karada district on the Rasafa side of Baghdad, Iraq. (70 families were included from this area)
The survey included 150 Iraqi families- a total of 502 people.
Marital status of the women in the studied population:
The graphical representation shown gives a clear idea of large number of widowed women amongst the population answering the questionnaire.
The Level of Education of Women in the Studied Population The table shown indicates that 47% of the women in the studied population earned higher education degrees. If we combine this percentage with high school graduates, the percentage rises to 70.6% which proves the immense potential of educated women within the studied population.
Age Distribution Amongst the Women of the Studied Population From this table it can be seen that 73.4% of the women in the survey are of a working age, i.e. 30 – 60, and yet due to the circumstances, most of them are unemployed as will be shown later. 99.9 % 150 Total 1.3 % 2 70 and above 8 % 12 60 – 69 24 % 36 50 – 59 30.7 % 46 40 – 49 18.7 % 28 30 – 39 13.3 % 20 20 – 29 4 % 6 Less than 20 % No. of Women Range
Employment Status of Women in the Studied Population The data clearly shows that out of the 106 women eligible for employment within the studied population, only 14 of them are currently working. This shows that only 15% are employed, while 85% remain unemployed.
Major Reasons Behind Current Unemployment It can be seen that the major reason behind women leaving the work force amongst the studied population is a lack of security due to sectarian violence, occupation forces and criminal militias.
Family Provider (Guardian) Amongst the Studied Population As can be seen from the statistics collected, there is an obvious retreat of women providing for the family, in spite of the fact that the general standard of living for the families is within the low-income to poverty level. (Taking into consideration the generally high level of education of the majority of the women.)
Income Range of Surveyed Families It will be noted that 70% of the Iraqi families surveyed live below the poverty level in one of the richest oil countries in the world.
Family Members Killed During Violence or Conflict Number of Killed Family Members Of the 150 families surveyed, 87 of them had one or more family members killed, with a total of 97 killed family members out of a total of 503. This represents a mortality rate of 193 per thousand.
Circumstances of Family Member Deaths The table shows that the highest percentage of deaths by killing is by the sectarian militias, followed by occupation forces excessive use of violence. 99.88% 97 Total 9.27% 9 Car bombs 4% 4 men Lack of security 2.06% 2 women Lack of security (raped and killed) 19.6% 19 Random killings by militias 41.2% 40 Targeted killings by militias 6.2% 6 Ministry of Interior torture victims 1.03% 1 Occupation forces – random shootings 16.5% 16 Occupation forces during torture Percentile No. of Victims Cause of Death
Missing Victims Missing victims represent 13.12 % of the studied population. Missing husbands, brothers, sisters, parents and children are a source of real trauma to the women in the family. 4.54% 3 Women were taken in place of other family members wanted by authorities 22.72% 15 Unjustified imprisonment 10.6% 7 Accidents due to a lack of security 9.09% 6 Sectarian kidnappings 53.3% 35 Went out and never returned Percentile No. of Missing Circumstances of Disappearance
Existing Chronic Illnesses in Families Surveyed Status of Family Member with Chronic Illness 11 Children 13 Both Parents 69 Mother 18 Father No. of Cases Patient Status Within Family
Some Diseases of Women in the Studied Population Continuous change of the living environment, losing family members and harsh living conditions all contribute to extra stress on the women in the family. This has resulted in many psychological disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), etc. 99.83 % 150 Total 63.33 % 95 None 2.66 % 4 Paralysis 0.66 % 1 Migraine 0.66 % 1 Sterility 0.66 % 1 Blood hypertension 0.66 % 1 Ulcer 2 % 3 Thyroid 18.6 % 28 Psychological with another disease 10.6 % 16 Psychological Percentile No. of Cases Type of Disease / Disorder
Primary Causes of Displacement of the Families Studied
The total number of students within the studied population was 318 (172 males and 146 females)
The total number of failing students was 64 (40 males and 24 females)
Many elements contribute to student failures in Iraq including trauma, security fears, sectarian favoritism, displacement, etc.
Major Causes of Student Failure in Schools Amongst Surveyed Families 99.98 % 64 Total 12.5 % 8 Raids and imprisonment of family members 29.68 % 19 Emotional damage as a result of having one or more family members killed 23.43 % 15 Curriculum differences (due to displacement) 15.62 % 10 Distraction and inability to focus 7.81 % 5 Poor teaching techniques 10.94 % 7 Missed attendance Percentile Number Causes of Failure
Causes of Dropping Out of School Amongst the Students of the Studied Population