Saturday, October 10, 2009

The betrayal of Iraqi women

When I was speaking to some of the officers in charge of training in the presence of "the friendly side," as the Iraqi security officials refer to the U.S. military, they were all for developing the military to include the "female element," in a subdued way. But when I had a chance of talking to them alone -- it was a different story.
"You understand that the 'friendly side' wants to give us the benefit of all its years of experience -- in all avenues. Maybe after they're gone, this issue will be put to the vote. And who knows, it may be revoked," said an Iraqi colonel at the center.
Talking to the women, around whom this story revolves, Rasha Ahmed, 27, said that after working in the military for three years, she would transfer to a civilian job even with less pay if she could. "The problem is not the women themselves. Many are capable and willing. It's the men. They don't take us seriously as professionals. They don't even train us as they do other men -- 'What a waste, where will you practice fighting? In your homes? Ha ha ha.'" That's their attitude," she complained.

The above is from Sahar Issa's "The 'Female Element' in the Iraqi military" (Inside Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers) and it's probably the only article that's bothered to note what realities are for Iraqi women and what they most likely will be as soon as the US leaves and the thugs the US put in charge no longer feel they have to respond.

Life was better for Iraqi women before the start of the Iraq War. Their lives have been destroyed, their rights have been taken from them and you don't hear about it and no one wants to talk about it. It doesn't fit with the lies of 'noble' war and 'success' that the press is so vested in selling.

For one article in 2009, for a brief second, you get how much Iraqi women have lost and how much they're going to lose. Years from now, when concern for Iraqi women is suddenly discovered grasp that it wasn't covered in real time. There was no interest in it. Not a busy news days, not on slow ones.

It's not as if the New York Times instructed their reporters to begin a piece on the status of Iraqi women and that it would run on slow news days. There was never any interest in Iraqi women. In the early days of the New York Times' 'coverage,' there was such a lack of interest that Iraqi women weren't even quoted in the paper -- not even in those people-on-the-street stories. You could read anything by John F. Burns or Dexter Filkins and never come across one woman. As though no women lived in Iraq, as though the entire population sprung fully grown from the head of Zeus. And don't pretend for one damn minute that the portrayal didn't involve a lot of sexism on the part of reporters 'telling' the story.

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