Sharia descends upon what had been a largely secular nation. Isn’t it great that Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange made Oklahoma safe for Sharia?
“2011 looks grim for progress on women’s rights in Iraq,” by Shashank Bengali and Sahar Issa for McClatchy Newspapers, December 31:
BAGHDAD — When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki introduced what he called a national partnership government two weeks ago, he included allies and adversaries, Arabs and Kurds, Shiite Muslims and Sunnis. One group, however, was woefully underrepresented.
Only one woman was named to Maliki’s 42-member cabinet, sparking an outcry in a country that once was a beacon for women’s rights in the Arab world and adding to an ongoing struggle over the identity of the new Iraq.
Whether this fledgling nation becomes a liberal democracy or an Islamist-led patriarchy might well be judged by the place it affords its women.
Nearly eight years after American-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, Iraq’s record is decidedly mixed.
Maliki’s last cabinet included four women, and since 2005 the Iraqi constitution has set aside one-quarter of legislative seats for females. Of 325 lawmakers elected in March, 82 were women, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Yet analysts said their political contributions so far have been limited, and activists and female lawmakers seized on their exclusion from the new cabinet as a sign of women’s continued struggle to find a place in Iraqi public life.
“It’s a mockery,” said Hanaa Edwar, a founder of the Iraqi al Amal Association, a leading women’s rights group. “Especially when you take into consideration that this is a retreat from the previous cabinet…it’s really a slap in the face for all of us.”…
“The Iraqi women feel today, more than any other day, that democracy in Iraq has been slaughtered by discrimination, just as it was slaughtered by sectarianism before,” Talabani said, her voice quaking with emotion.
Maliki returned to the lectern somewhat red-faced and said, “I had hoped that this cabinet would have more women than the last.” He demanded that party leaders propose female candidates for the handful of vacancies remaining in the cabinet.
The U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Jim Jeffrey, said of the one-sided list: “It surprised us.”…
It shouldn’t have.
For decades, Iraq led the region in promoting women’s rights, beginning in 1959 with the passage of an extremely progressive civil liberties law and the appointment of the first female minister in the Arab world. Even Saddam was a friend to women in the 1970s and 1980s, passing strong legislation against sexual harassment and bringing huge numbers of women into the workforce as part of a drive to industrialize Iraq.
Now, however, Iraqi women are finding their hard-won freedoms limited by a society increasingly governed by religious conservatives. Many Iraqis say that politicians at the local and provincial levels, whether they hail from Islamist parties or merely take cues from them, are putting pressure on women to circumscribe their public role….
“Religious conservatives,” i.e., Islamic supremacists.