The 8th of March marks a significant date for a
significant creature, International Women’s Day, a day to pay respect to all
the women and their remarkable fight for their rights over the years.
On this day let’s recognize the courage and patience of the Iraqi woman, who suffered a lot over the years, she stood up against terrorism and suppression.
Women in Iraq have suffered the most from the violence that plagues the country starting from the US invasion until the breakout of ISIS, who mistreated women, used them as sex slaves and burdened them with all the hatred and extremism.
Even after the war has ended, women were left vulnerable at displacement camps with their jihadists’ children, fearing returning home, as their families are ashamed of their illegitimate children and not trusting their daughters who were brides of the jihadists who raided their towns.
In November 2017, Women rights civil organization “Bint al-Rafdain” announced that 78% of Iraqi women suffer from different acts of violence, a statistic that can tell a lot about the conditions of women in post-war Iraq.
Over the past year, Iraqi women have experienced a different kind of terrorism, as they have been a target for assassinators.
Last September, Iraq was shocked by the footage of man on a motorbike pulled up next to a car window and fired three shots at Tara al-Fares, Iraq’s beauty queen and social media public figure, killing her on a Baghdad street.
A video circulating on social media has introduced a reason why ex runner-up Miss Iraq Tara Fares was killed. In the footage shared by social media users, Fares appears speaking about a religious official who asked her to marry him illegitimately, temporarily and privately, in a way known by Twelver Shiite Islam as 'pleasure marriage.'
The daylight assassination, captured by a surveillance camera, was both brazen and familiar to Iraqis who lived through the civil war and painful decade since.
Yet it was also shockingly distinctive; the body slumped in the car seat was not a politician, official, insurgent or warlord. She was a former beauty queen; a young woman with both profile and attitude, one of four high-profile Iraqi women to have been killed across the country in quick succession.
The four were unknown to each other, but their lives – recently at least – had shared common themes. All had a public presence and a voice that had unsettled elements of Iraqi society, which has retained rigid views on how women should behave, even as relative freedoms have crept into a still conservative culture.
To reveal one such trait in post-war Iraq is daring, many Iraqi women say. To proudly showcase both can be reckless.
The effervescent al-Fares has become a lightning rod for all four deaths, and sparked a rare public discussion in Iraq about how far women have come in the 15 years since the US invasion, the proponents of which had vowed that civic freedoms and individual liberties would somehow emerge from the ensuing chaos.
The death of Al-Fares, 22, followed the killing of Suad al-Ali, a women’s rights activist in the southern city of Basra, who was gunned down as she walked to her car. In August, two more Iraqi women, Rasha al-Hassan and Rafifi al-Yasiri were killed one week apart. Both worked in beauty clinics.
Al-Fares, born to a Lebanese Shia mother and an Iraqi Christian father, made little attempt to bow to the norms that many expected of her. Her profile was created as a challenge to double standards that many in Iraq complain about but remain unwilling to tackle.
Amid lack of legal actions to protect women, and ignoring the society’s attitude towards women and how they treat the vulnerable, traumatized, displaced women, the Iraqi woman will need more than sweet word to congratulate her on the International Women’s Day.