'Iraq Before the Invasion
Contrary to popular imagination, Iraqi women enjoyed far more freedom under Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’athist government than women in other Middle Eastern countries. In fact, equal rights for women were enshrined in Iraq’s Constitution in 1970, including the right to vote, run for political office, access education and own property. Today, these rights are all but absent under the U.S.-backed government of Nouri al-Maliki.'
'Widows and Orphans
The loss of husbands and fathers over the last decade has left 2 million Iraqi women widowed. Furthermore, estimates put the number of orphaned Iraqi children at 5 million, most of whom are growing up without an education. As a result, says OWFI, there are now “more than 3 million women and girls with no source of income or protection, thereby turning them into a helpless population” and making them vulnerable to “trafficking, sexual exploitation, polygamy, and religious pleasure marriages.”'
'Women’s Rights Set Back 70 Years
Unsurprisingly, most U.S. media outlets have failed to accurately cover the deterioration of women’s rights in Iraq. ...Nadje Al-Ali, author of the book “What Kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq...argues that the Iraq War set women’s rights back 70 years.'
'Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared in a 2011 report that “life in Iraq is actually getting worse for women” and accused the U.S.-backed Iraqi government of “violating with impunity the rights of Iraq’s most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees.”'
Was Life for Iraqi Women Better Under Saddam? | crimson satellite
'"In general women were living much better off under Saddam," Yanar Mohammed, a women's rights advocate with the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq told The Media Line. "The Iraq that I grew up in was a very modern Iraq and we had basic human rights."
"It was more fashionable at the time to give more rights to women and even Saddam followed the more progressive tendency in the region," she said. "So the Personal Status Law of the time, passed [in 1959] even before Saddam, established a minimum age for marriage, made it very difficult for a man to take a second wife and one almost never saw clerics ruling on civil matters."
"But then the U.S. occupation created a political vacuum and allowed what they call the 'cultural groups' to have their way in Iraq," Mohammed continued. "These religious groups were able to gain access to the constitution and allow people to turn to Sharia instead of civil law. So there is no longer any strong civil law to protect us and there are now big parts of Iraq which are being ruled under Sharia, in which women have very little rights."'
Houzan Mahmoud: Do Iraq's Women Miss Saddam?
From Human Rights Watch:
'Human rights conditions in Iraq remain poor, particularly for detainees, journalists, activists, and women and girls. Security forces continued to arbitrarily detain and torture detainees, holding some in secret jails. Iraq security forces respond to peaceful protest with intimidation, threats, violence, and arrests. Journalists and media organizations critical of the government face harassment. A new law criminalizing human trafficking has yet to be effectively implemented, and the Kurdistan Regional Government has not taken steps to implement a 2011 law banning female genital mutilation. Hundreds of civilians and police were killed in bomb attacks by armed groups and other violence amid a political crisis that has dragged on since December 2011.'