Amidst the chaos and violence of US-occupied Iraq, the significance of widespread gender-based violence has been largely overlooked. Yet Iraqi women are enduring unprecedented levels of assault in the public sphere, "honor killings," torture in detention, and other forms of gender-based violence.
In honor of International Women's Day today, MADRE, a global women's human rights organization, has released a new report on the incidence, causes, and legalization of gender-based violence in Iraq since the US-led invasion.
Houzan Mahmoud, representative of the Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), said at a panel discussion at the UN launching the report:
"Women are not only being targeted because they are members of the civilian population, women--in particular those who are perceived to pose a challenge to the political aspirations of their attackers--have increasingly been targeted simply because they are women."
The report, Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq, documents the use of gender-based violence by Islamists seeking to establish a theocratic state and makes the case that US policy decisions have empowered radicals at the expense of women's rights.