What has ISIS done to the women in the cities they have conquered? Direct enslavement, humiliation and turning women into concubines to be bought and sold. This was something nobody expected to see in Iraq.
I would like to see a law legalising women’s shelters in Iraq. I would like to see our radio being opened again as a result of the pressure that we’re putting on the governmental body that could allow this.
I would like to see the Iraqi government guarantee social insurance for the Yazidi women who were enslaved and to recognise their status as prisoners of war.
In the very first part of the constitution there is the article that refuses any law or any article in discrepancy with Sharia. We Iraqis feel it was imposed on us. It wasn’t a local thing. Iraqis have led a sort of secular life for almost 50 years.
When you torture a person for long periods you might get a very passionate human rights defender but most probably you will get a beast whose only concern is to seek his revenge in the best way possible.
Before 2003, none of us knew which part of the country was Sunni and which part was Shi’a. This was something new to Iraq and we are reaping the results at this point. Women’s wellbeing has paid the price.
We have had many wars with other countries and when a prisoner comes back they get many benefits, they get a house, they get a salary and I want the Iraqi government to do this for the Yazidi women so that they can have the social status that would allow a good future, a good family and a good status in society.
The constitution has put women in a position where no one will protect them from religious cliques. If a woman is the third or the fourth wife and she has no rights inside her home and, on top of that, there is domestic abuse in her house, she is doomed. Under Islamic Sharia law a woman must accept beatings from her husband. Under Islamic Sharia, she must not revolt because she is the third or fourth wife.
The new update of 2014-2015 is, of course, the attack of ISIS. But this is rooted in recent history. It is the direct result of all the politics that came into Iraq with the occupation.
Young women growing into situations with no parents are usually material for exploitation in the brothels.
The leading members of ISIS were either tortured in US military prisons or in the prisons of the Shi’a government which the Americans put in place.
OWFI was founded by a few Iraqi women who decided to have a voice. We were sure the future government would not be a woman-friendly one. From the first day our policy was to try to gain support from outside Iraq.
In the beginning, in 2003, there was the Iraqi resistance, which didn’t want the US occupation, then they developed Al Qaeda, but even then it was never this monstrous, this inhumane and as misogynistic as what we’re seeing now under ISIS.
In Iraq, we did have dictators, we did have times of war but it never reached the point where one person, or a group, would be attacking another group and would be enslaving all the women of that group.
The US empowered the Shi’a Islamic political groups and marginalised a big part of Iraq who were recognised as Sunni people. It was only to be expected that the next step would be for the sectarian religious dynamics to surface, for one religious group to be fighting another religious group.
When I was a student, I was dressed like a modern girl and I wore long shorts. That is part of the past. There is fear in the streets. You cannot go out in the streets. You are looked at as if you come from another age. If there are any militias on your street, they will tell you to go back home and dress decently. They could beat you up or punish you worse than that. Some of us who have grown up in Baghdad are used to wearing what we please and walking where we please.
Polygamy was not a problem in the ’80s. I do not remember one single woman in Baghdad who was the second or third wife. Now it’s a very common story. Sometimes two wives living with a man in a 5 by 10 foot room. It’s a very miserable economic situation.