Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Iraqi women and women in Iraq

Hamza Hendawi (AP) reports on the one growth industry of the illegal war: widowhood. Women such as Hameeda Ayed, now the sole provider for herself and her three children who qualifies for approximately $166 a month in assistance from the Baghdad government or 'government' but not only is she not receiving the money, she's no longer trying for it. Because? Because the process exists to stymie and thwart those who might seek assistance. As has become very obvious (me, not AP) in the last years, the 'assistance' is a concept Nouri wants the West to believe he's provided; however, no meaningful assistance is provided for Iraq's over 1 million widows (government figure provided to AP by Nahdah Hameed). Hamza summarizes to AP, "Our life has been turned into misery and desperation. This is what we got from occupation and the dreams of democracy: orphans, widows, homeless, displaced and fugitives."

Women suffer in many ways in Iraq. Across the country they deal with the illegal war that has set their own rights back as the US rushed to install thugs. In northern Iraq, they also face Female Genital Mutilation. Martin Chulov (Guardian -- link has text and video) covers the topic today and I'm tempted to make the excerpt something else -- for example there's an 'uplift' section of the article (some seem to be waking up) -- but it's a brutal practice and we're not going to pretty it up:

But in a small home on the outskirts of the same village in northern Iraq, Jiana Ali Mohammed sat on the floor, her wide eyes staring into the middle distance. Jiana, now 17, underwent female genital mutilation twice as a seven-year-old; once by a midwife in the morning, and the second time later that day by her grandmother, who thought the job had not been done properly. Her clitoris and labia were sliced away, a procedure far more invasive than the symbolic nip described by Moustafa. Jiana bled for days and lost movement for a while in her lower limbs.
She is developmentally delayed and socially backward. Her mother, Nazeka Shemen, blames her daughter's woes on the trauma of that day.
All four of her daughters before Jiana also underwent genital mutilation, but she said she would never put a new daughter through the ordeal.
"I have come to accept that it was wrong," said Shemen. "I would not do this to another child and I regret doing what we have done. Everyone has done it in Rania, including me. It is not a practice that has been questioned until recently."

Human Rights Watch released "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan" (link goes to HTML overview, report is in PDF format). The 80-page report documents the continued and widespread practice of FGM in the KRG. (For more on the report see the June 16th and June 17th snapshots.) If you think a large number of outlets covered the report, you are wrong. If you think that women in the US who decried FGM in the 90s (including one who wrote a book on it) had anything to say, you were wrong.

Meanwhile Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR's Morning Edition -- link has text and audio) reports from Hannah Allam's Baghdad baby shower. The McClatchy correspondent joins Deborah Haynes (Times of London) and Nada Bakri (New York Times) in reporting on the Iraq War from Iraq while pregnant. Garcia-Navarro notes, "Since the war started, dozens of women have been sent to cover this conflict. It's been our choice, but for many of us, home and family have had to be parked at the blast wall gates." Leila Fadel (Washington Post), Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) are mentioned in the report (they attended the shower and, of course, cover Iraq). Other women reporting from Iraq for US outlets have included Alissa J. Rubin, Ellen Knickmeyer, Nancy A. Youssef, Deborah Amos (author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East), Cara Buckley, Martha Raddatz, Kimberly Dozier, Sabrina Tavernise, Jill Carroll, Anna Badkhen, Gina Chon, Louise Roug, Tina Susman, Alexandra Zavis, Alice Fordham, Kim Gamel, Katarina Kratovac, Rebecca Santana and, of course, the Iraqi women who are part of McClatchy's Baghdad Bureau. Have included. That is not a complete list. (And it's off the top of my head so anyone forgotten was by accident and not a sleight -- except one -- the most famous Iraq 'reporter' whom I'm really not in the mood to include, the former Ms. NYT for those still waking up, helped sell the war.) Everyone listed has their strengths and a unique quality that set their reports aside from others (male and female) reporting from the region. Women have long covered wars. The Iraq War demonstrated that only more so.

We'll note this from Debra Sweet's "Senate Votes 99 to 0 for Illegitimate War – You Have Role in Stopping These Unjust Wars and Occupations" (World Can't Wait):

99 to 0! And it would have been 100 Senators to 0 if Robert Byrd had been alive to vote to confirm General Petraeus on Wednesday. Thursday the House voted money to keep the occupation going with $37 billion. Afghanistan gets chewed up for going on ten years.
Petraeus rushed to Afghanistan yesterday for work on a planned "surge" on Kandahar. But the conflict over how to proceed there which was revealed in Defense Secretary Gates issued detailed "rules of engagement" for the military...for the press...so that no one in the military speaks frankly again about the war.
Controversy, not over whether the U.S. war strategy is "working," but whether it's justified at all, should be challenging a lot of people, who should hear our answer. It doesn't matter the commander or the strategy, these occupations are wrong, immoral, unjust, illegitimate. And YOU have a role in stopping them.

Cindy Sheehan and Peace Action have already kicked off "Sizzlin Summer: Independence from oil, Free Palestine, Anti-drone & Counter Recruitment Protests, July 4th through July 17th" in DC. For a breakdown of the activities, click here. And here's the schedule through Friday (use link for events after Friday):

July 6th (Tuesday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to (TBA) location for FREE PALESTINE! protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 7th (Wednesday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to Congress and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 8th (Thursday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to General Atomics and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 9th (Friday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and protest until 3pm
– possible special action TBA
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

US House Rep Shelley Berkley's office issued the following on Friday:

(July 2, 2010 -- Washington, D.C.) The House Democratic Caucus today reaffirmed its commitment to America's families with the launch of a new Task Force on Housing Stabilization.
Chaired by U.S. Reps. Shelley Berkley (NV) and Dennis Cardoza (CA), the Task Force will undertake a comprehensive review of housing stabilization efforts, looking at programs that have been successful along with those that are in need of changes and improvements.
"The Task Force on Housing Stabilization is an opportunity to refocus the conversation on America's housing crisis. My hometown of Las Vegas has been hit hard by the housing crisis and the wave of foreclosures that have swept the nation, and we can do more to help people who continue to struggle to stay in their homes. I look forward to using this forum as a means of critically evaluating those programs in place to deal with on-going foreclosure and housing issues. That includes identifying additional ways to enhance these efforts, and improve their effectiveness, and the Housing Stabilization Task Force is an important step toward accomplishing this shared goal," said Congresswoman Berkley.
"As economists have correctly stated, the foreclosure crisis was at the heart of our nation's economic meltdown," said Congressman Cardoza. "My district is among the most devastated regions in the country. Until we address the crisis with adequate solutions that target the hardest-hit communities, our economic recovery will lag and my constituents will continue to suffer. This task force represents a significant opportunity to study what is and isn't working as we work toward improving the federal response to this crisis."
The Housing Stabilization Task Force will bring a renewed focus to housing issues and provide Members a forum where they can discuss ways to improve existing housing programs and examine new paths for dealing with the housing crisis.
Housing Stabilization Task Force Issues:

* Foreclosure Mitigation
* Home Valuation
* Lending Programs
* Real Estate Market Stabilization

Elena Kagan's nominated for the Supreme Court. Her confirmation hearings were last week. "Veterans Today Opposes Elena Kagan" offers a take on the nomination. Today Barack Obama meets with Bibi Netanyahu "Bibi Back at the White House - The Consistency of Israeli Duplicity Comes Ever More Clearly into Focus" (Criminal State). And if it has to do with the news, Danny Schechter's done it. Broadcast, print, radio, TV, net. He is also a maker of many documentary films. The News Dissector has put his blog on hold (temporarily, hopefully) to spend more time drawing attention to what he sees as one of the most important issues of our time. At Third "DVD: Plunder (Ava and C.I.)" was a review of Danny Schechter's latest documentary Plunder. Along with the DVD release of the film, he's also got The Crimes Of Our Times, Danny's companion book to the documentary. He has a new website for the film -- this is about the economic collapse -- and you can click here. And here's Danny explaining the importance of the issue:

After years of a media narrative about Wall Street mistakes, miscalculations, and poor risk models, there is now a push to investigate and prosecute wrong doers largely because of deep public anger. Yet, the financial crisis is still being treated mostly as a business problem when it should also be investigated as a crime story.

In 2006, as a well-known independent filmmaker and Emmy Award winning producer, I made the film In Debt We Trust warning of the crisis and exposing subprime lending. I was called an alarmist and doom and gloomer. Unfortunately, I was mostly right.

Now I have written a book, The Crime of our Time and made another film, out on DVD, Plunder: The Crime of our Time (
Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com). Because of what I've found, and because of what this means to the public at large, I often feel like that hero of a children's story whose warning that the Emperor had no clothes was ignored.

Don't you think that with unemployment as high as it is, foreclosures wrecking the lives of l4 million families, and Wall Street bonuses unchecked, this story --- this "crime narrative" --- should at least be explored?

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.