Iraq: NCCI's Weekly Highlight 24 May 2007


"Call from Iraqi Women to Ms. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives"

Dear Madame,

The Iraqi Women Movement through its members' personnel, are thrilled of your achievements at the national and international levels, and consider them an asset to all women globally, and would like call upon you and our friends in the international community, to stand up to their commitment to Iraqis against all kinds of violations of human rights and terror, that is happening in Iraq, while Iraq relation with international community and partners is clearly identified with commitments and obligations under mandates of UNSC Resolutions 1483, 1511, and 1546,

Over the past two years, after the late government elect took into power, the conflict in Iraq took a dangerous turn, leaving civilians torn under sectarian militias' vicious acts, escalating number of IDPS now closing to two million civilians across Iraqi governorates and cities' neighborhoods, with similar number of Iraqi refugees in the neighboring countries, fleeing persecution and instability, where education, health and all public services are diminishing in all sectors, poverty and unemployment reaching unprecedented limits, causing a multi faceted humanitarian crisis,

Any sect or minority groups that weren't targeted openly and directly in the near past are now targeted directly in the fight, and we're referring here to the late vicious acts by different militias to persecute and displace Iraqi Christians and Manda'is from neighborhoods in Baghdad city, and the stories here reveal many violations and brutal acts.

It would be difficult now to vision a future Iraqi constitution that guarantees democracy, equality, justice and citizenship, in this course our trust in building democracy through the current political process is fading; our fight/campaign for the past two years have been dedicated to rid the constitution draft from all indicating sectarian phrases and articles, but mostly targeting to preserve the existing Iraqi Personal Status Law (family law) that prevailed for more than fifty years in the Iraqi society, and considered, although incorporating all Sharia Laws in its articles, the most advanced legislation amongst regional states for decades, emphasizing the mixed and harmonized texture of Iraqi society by encouraging intersects and religions marriages for decades in Iraq. We are alarmed that the final valid constitutional copy carries the notorious Article 41 which calls for a new personal status to be governed by affiliation to religious sects, and contradicts Article 14 in the same copy draft of the constitution stating that all Iraqis are equal before law.

As women face escalating violence and exclusion in Iraq, they have been marginalized in reconciliation initiatives and negotiations for government positions, as we feel that women political involvement is crucial and reintegrating, Iraqi women make over 45 percent of public servant in Iraq; there is a long list of qualified Iraqi women who can resist corruption and focus on development and reconstruction, We find only four women in the thirty-seven ministries, not in the key ministries, but in women affairs, human rights, Environmental and construction.

Even with the shy and insignificant pressure exerted by the UN and other International donors/players on the Iraqi government and politicians to fulfill minimum obligations of SC Resolution 1325, the action taken, has been a sequence of disappointments to anticipations of Iraqis,

In particular the violent campaign against women has escalated. The majority of women now find themselves terrified, facing one of the most complex and violent situations in the world, where AlQaida insurgency, war lords, organized crimes and different affiliated militias control neighborhoods and has infiltrated the national security and army forces. Every day between ninety and a hundred women is widowed - still young and potential resource in rebuilding the nation, while 11% from women population in Iraq are providers and heading families,

Religious groups affiliated by political parties' represented in the parliament and government, are using the state apparatus to impose more segregating and sectarian rules over the state institutions, imposing veil on women and prevent them from wearing trousers or driving cars, while in rural areas, south and south centre governorates, government officials from the ministry of Education, taking advantage of the lawless status, are carrying orders to impose veil on nine years old girls, and forcing gender segregation in preliminary schools. In a latest unprecedented brutal incident in April 7th, a 17 year old young girl from Azdian sect was stoned to death by her family and clan, the stoning video was proudly and openly shared by her kinfolks nationwide, through all mobiles networks and internet throughout Iraq, without fear of any punishment from Iraqi government, or laws, while the video shots, revealed policemen figures witnessing the stoning, without taking any action,

Our hopes in our nation are big, but our trust in our women resilience have no boundaries, and we are sparing no efforts publicly and at all international and national levels to lobby, document, and provide hope, in this we're integrating youth efforts with ours to credit the campaign, but most importantly now, at this crucial moment, where our constitution is in the final stages of revision, we call upon you to help in preventing Iraq from taking the identity of a Religious State, Iraq cannot afford to be one. Therefore, Iraqi Women Movement lobby and campaign aimed to delete Article 41 in the constitution, to enhance national unity, and contain increasing sectarian congestion in Iraq,

The Iraqi Women Movement will always cherish the important positive role that our sisters in the Congress played with the US Administration to support our campaign back in early 2004,

to abolish a similar law to Article 41, i.e. to ban Iraqi Personal Status Law 188, issued in 1959, issued then by the Iraqi Governing Council, then called Resolution 137, the campaign was successful by the end of Feb 2004, when the Resolution was abolished and not ratified by the governing council.

Our demands now will be feasible if our international partners decided to act upon obligations of UNSC Resolutions regarding Iraq to guarantee equality, and preserve human rights, and it pours in the regional security protection as we have witnessed that any destabilization in the state of law, economy, and security in Iraq can reflect on the security and stability of the whole region,

Best regards and looking forward to your support and act,

On behalf of Iraqi Women Movement,

Hanaa Edwar,