Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Islamic law bad for women, bad for Iraq

Fundamentalist Islam is backward and it has taken Iraq (and Iran) backward.

H. Patricia Hynes and Yanar Mohammed, truthout:
Studies on the ground of the war's impact on women and girls come to vastly different conclusions. In October 2002, Saddam Hussein released criminals from Iraqi prisons. This and the soon-to-follow 2003 US-led assault on Baghdad, created conditions for bloodletting, for a sharp increase in organized crime trafficking in drugs, stolen cars, and women and girls; and for the ascendancy of armed Islamist conservatism. Saddam's tightly controlled violence and reign of terror were replaced by unpredictable, widespread violence against Iraqi women. The immediate consequences for women: hejabs worn by Muslim and Christian women alike (and abayas in some regions) to avoid being harassed and beaten in public; an epidemic of women killed in the city of Basra by fundamentalist men, who leave them in the street as a lesson to other women; increased rape, including of women in detention; abduction into prostitution; and a dramatic rise in "honor" killings, or the murder of women and girls by male family members to restore family honor. Muta'a - Sharia law-permitted exploitation [or dating*] of women by men in so-called temporary marriages, which serve as fronts for prostitution [or just premarital sex*] - rose after the war began, with men targeting desperate, penniless widows and the Shia militia targeting single girls. The real ruler in Iraq today, according to Iraqi Professor Maha Sabria, "is the rule of old traditions and tribal, backward law" with a US-brokered Constitution based in Islamic law, one which does not assure women basic rights or protections.

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), which investigated women's deaths in Basra by visiting city morgues, found that most of the women killed by fundamentalist "vice squads" in Basra were largely professionals, activists and PhDs. The lesson to other women: end any participation in the public, political and social spheres and stay home under male surveillance. By early 2008, only 20 percent of primary and secondary students countrywide were female; the rest were prisoners in their homes. Houzan Mahmoud, who has risked her life to organize a petition against the introduction of Islamic law in Kurdistan, summed up the impact of the war: "If before there were one dictator persecuting people, now almost everyone is persecuting women."

*The charge that "Mut'a" or "temporary marriage" is a front for prostitution, an exploitation of women, is wrong. I'm sure many Shia men do exploit women and engage in prostitution, but many Shia men do "Mut'a" just to engage in consensual pre-marital sex. When I lived with my girlfriend in college, my parents found out about it eventually, and when they did, they were very disappointed. They told me the only way to make it ok by God is to do a "temporary marriage" with her. And that's what I did with my American girlfriend from Arkansas, just to make my religious parents happy, or more happy than they were when they discovered I was living in sin.

"Mut'a" is one of those words that some Sunni Arabs love to throw at Shia as an insult, as if Sunni Arabs do not engage in pre-marital sex.


Maury said...

I know a guy from Iran who had one of those marriages. Not on paper or anything. But, just saying he had one seemed to get his friends off his back. This guy was hilarious. His girlfriend was Jewish. She threatened to kill herself whenever he tried to break up. She tried jumping out of his car once. Another time, she drank a bunch of brake fluid. He was scared she'd kill herself and he'd be blamed for her death. He didn't want to go to Guantanomo at such a young age....LOL.

Things were much simpler in the 80's, before Muslims got hit by the piety bug. I had an Iranian girlfriend who picked me up in a bar. She just wanted sex. Never wanted to bring me home to mom or any of that stuff...LOL. Women didn't wear burqa's, robes, or even head rags back then. At least not American Muslim women. Simpler times.

Iraqi Mojo said...

Wow, the swingin 80s! I found a cool video of Iranian women without hijab on Harry's place, very interesting. It's too bad so Iran became so conservative. Iranian women are beautiful.