August 19, 2005
Antiwar Feminists Protest Discrimination
Against Women in New Iraqi Constitution
An international feminist group, Radical Women, has gathered over 5,500 signatures on petitions demanding civil rights for women in Iraq and calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq. Iraqi women are 60% of Iraqi society; 93% of them support maintaining equal rights secured in the constitution that has been in place since 1959. The timing of the petition campaign is designed to raise attention to the discriminatory articles in the new draft Iraqi constitution and the negative effects the U.S. government's war.
Radical Women supports Iraqi women's widespread resistance to the threatened imposition of Sharia law, which condones marriage of female children, polygamy, and other abuses of women, such as beating, stoning, flogging, and forced veiling. In addition equal rights in divorce, education, ownership of property, and employment are in jeopardy.
Said Toni Mendicino of Radical Women, “The United States as an occupier has invented a need to create a new constitution. With fundamentalist clerics in control of the process, as a result of the rushed election process also imposed by the United States, the new constitution is a huge step backwards for women. The United States is in essence supporting fundamentalists and feeding sectional rivalries. Iraqis see their country as unified and secular. Our struggles are closely linked: U.S. feminists are fighting many of the same encroachments on the separation of church and state here at home.”
The petition seeks to build awareness and to pressure the Bush government and Congress to end the U.S. presence in Iraq, which has promoted a climate of violence and led to kidnappings, rapes, prison torture, and murder of female activists. While the press has covered the combat in Iraq and reports daily on injury to U.S. personnel, reports gloss over the severe effects of the conflict on civilians, especially women.
Women in Iraq must cope with the destruction of a basic infrastructure - water, sewer, power, schools and hospitals - an unpredictable food supply, and disease carried by contaminated water; they also face escalating violence in the breakdown of civil order and from U.S. military personnel. Now they must also anticipate the opportunistic destruction of their civil rights as the most reactionary clerics grab for control of their government and call it democracy.
Radical Women branches in Seattle, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, as well as El Salvador and Australia, are committed to a socialist feminist program and will continue to work actively to support groups such as the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq and their demand for equal rights for Iraqi women free from U.S. domination. For more information or to speak with a Radical Women representative, contact Christina Lopez at 206-722-6057 or email NatRadicalWomen@aol.com.