Sunday, April 17, 2005

Women's Rights restrained in so-called "Free" Iraq, April 17, 2005

Women's eNews News Desk

Contact: Naomi Abraham

Women’s Hopes Restrained in Post-Election Iraq

April 17, 2005 — Female politicians and a secular Iraqi Kurd as interim president do not necessarily translate into more women’s rights in Iraq. At a women's shelter in Irbil, for instance, residents aren't expecting new protections from domestic violence.

In this week’s cover story, Women’s eNews, an independent nonprofit news service, reports on the current state of women’s rights in post-election Iraq. On April 3, in elections for Iraq's transitional national assembly, women won about 33 percent of the seats, exceeding the constitutionally required minimum of 25 percent. Although it may seem like a victory for Iraqi women, many doubt that the country's new national assembly, despite its high proportion of women, will do much to protect women against violence or help in advancing women’s rights. Instead they expect the government to be more focused on ethnic and religious politics in the coming year. Many Iraqi pro-women’s rights leaders complain that many of the elected female politicians, like some of their male counterparts, will be serving as loudspeakers for the political parties they represent.

Ala Talabani, who runs a non-governmental organization on women empowerment in Sulimaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan, says part of the problem lies in the fact that the elections were not decided on the basis of issues or politics, but on ethnicity, religion, nationality. "Kurds voted for Kurds, Shiites for Shiites, Sunnis for Sunnis, Turkomen for Turkomen.”

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