Iraq has been torn apart by decades of war. Conflicts religiously, politically, and economically have destroyed nearly everything in this once prospering nation. Since the US invasion of troops in 2003 Iraq has been in an ongoing conflict for almost 15 years.
The place where women’s rights is clearly the worst in Iraq is Kurdistan. In this area are some of the worst literacy rates and poorly educated citizenry in the entire world. Reported issues in Kurdish society include genital mutilation, honor killings, and domestic violence. Women here are treated in many ways like property. They have been increasingly used as a bargaining tool or gift among tribes, while forced marriages, kidnappings, and honour-related crimes have increased drastically. They are not allowed to make their own decisions regarding sexuality or husbands and arranged marriages are very common. Women who are brave enough to make their own decisions with marriage are often victims of violence including beatings and killings. However these reports have in the past fallen on deaf ears due to women’s underrepresentation in politics. Rencently, Iraq has installed a quota system to try and increase women representation in government. Today 25% of parliaments 330 seats are reserved for women. While seemingly the solution to help solve women across the countries issues the quota system has not proven as successful as many had hoped. Women representatives have failed to enact any significant change due to their inability to change the minds of their male competitors. However women’s rights groups have started to make a significant impact in turning the lives of women in this country around. The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq which started in 2003 works to defend full social equality between men and women and fights Islamic fundamentalism. It concentrates its activities against religious extremism and sharia law and against abduction and murder of young women in honour killings.
In addition to the OWFI in 2011 on International Women’s Day a coalition of 17 Iraqi women’s rights groups formed the National Network to Combat Violence Against Women in Iraq. The Network’s focus is on advocating for women’s rights and protecting them from all kinds of violence. Groups like these have continued to grow recently and become more apparent spreading hope for change in the future of Iraq and to hopefully one day become an equal society among both men and women.