To the Gallant Men of Iraq

November 25, 2012

For a change, this week I will not write about us and our problems, which could need all the psychiatrists in the world to examine. I will write about the situation of the women around us.
While the differences between us men are increasing as a result of our politics and our complexes, the similarities between the women and girls around us are increasing.
It is quite disappointing to see that a country that was once a beacon of liberties and personal freedoms now ranks among the worst. Almost every man who lives in Iraq sees or is in contact with an abused woman, and they do very little to stop that abuse. By abuse, I mean all forms of physical and psychological abuse. If you think that this statement is an exaggeration, there are numbers.
While researching this topic, I came across a recent U.N. factsheet on the situation of women in Iraq, Kurdistan included. It provided terrifying statistics. I will pick two areas it focused on: education and violence.
When it comes to literacy and education, about 24 percent of women are illiterate; 11 percent of men are illiterate. When asked to read a sentence out loud, illiteracy rose to 50 percent among women. In Kurdistan, the U.N. factsheet stated that between 34 and 40 percent of women above 15 are illiterate.
One in three girls between the ages of 12 and 14 is not in school. In about half of the cases, the reason the girls are not attending school is because of parental refusal.
Regarding violence, 21 percent of Iraqi women between the ages of 15 and 49 have suffered physical abuse at the hands of their husbands. Thirty-three percent have suffered emotional violence, and 83 percent are subjected to controlling behavior by their husbands.
Moreover, female genital mutilation may affect as many as 41 percent of women in Kurdistan.
Many of the issues related to the violation of women’s rights arise from entrenched cultural traditions and social practices.
A 2009 youth survey showed that 68 percent of young Iraqi men believe that it is acceptable to kill a girl for profaning a family’s honor, while 50 percent believe that wife beating is acceptable.
When a group of young Iraqis was asked about the factors that could stop violence against women, 40 percent of them cited family upbringing, 37 percent religion, 35 percent law, 6 percent the media and 3 percent said that schools can help stop violence against women.
These numbers should sound alarm bells to all about the unhealthy society we live in and how we are contributing to its chronic illness. Those who are at the high end of suggestions in the survey — families, religious men and people of law and legislation — should feel the responsibility that is upon them and shoulder it.
Those who received lower numbers in the survey, such as schools and the media, should seriously reconsider their effectiveness and reform themselves in a way that makes them relevant.
Because if you live around or see an abused woman and don’t or can’t do anything about it, then something is wrong and you need to find out what it is. It is either in your family upbringing, or the clergyman you listen to on Fridays, or the legal system, or the media outlet that you use or the school you went to.
When you find what went wrong, you would not be surprised to know that this article was written on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

    follow me
    mail me