The women of Basra have disappeared. Three years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women’s secular freedoms – once the envy of women across the Middle East – have been snatched away because militant Islam is rising across the country.
The BBC reported that Iraqi women feared for their rights in July 2005.
Human Rights Watch provides information on the status of Iraqi women before the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Iraqi women are being persecuted and killed for failing to conform to Islamic extremist notions of how women ought to behave. They’re told that women ought not to work, to expose bare flesh, to wear make-up, to drive, or to be seen in public without a close male relative as their escort, and so on. In other words, to do anything other than bear children. This is another consequence of the ill thought out invasion of the country by the US and UK. “Democracy” is a joke for Iraqi women. Religious and tribal leaders are exploiting the situation.
We shouldn’t be surprised. The history of world religion is one of patriarchy gone mad. The Muslim misogynists who impose their anachronistic super-sexism are seriously and dangerously weird, but Christianity has its sexually obsessed madmen, and Hindu men are responsible for bride-burning, female infanticide and domestic violence – using acid to burn women as a punishment is common.
What makes men use religion to justify their misogyny? Boys are indoctrinated with a dangerous mixture of religious fundamentalism and misogyny from an early age. They never learn how to relate to women as equal human beings. It’s a kind of sexist sickness, and it afflicts a large proportion of the world’s male population. Early religions, in the pre-Judeo-Christian era, were primarily matriarchal. They were dominated by priestesses and goddesses, and women were dominant in society. If you have to have a deity, doesn’t it make more sense to have a female one? We’re all born of woman. Human life begins in a woman’s womb. That’s what misogynist men hate and fear. To them, we women are merely a vessel. When we assert ourselves, we are labelled harlots, witches, and bitches, and considered unworthy of any respect or consideration. That’s what’s happening to women in Iraq, just as it’s happening to women all around the world.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote the following in her book The Second Sex, in 1949. Over fifty years later, nothing much has changed.
Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he writes; and since man exercises a sovereign authority over women it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being. For the Jews, Mohammedans and Christians among others, man is master by divine right; the fear of God will therefore repress any impulse towards revolt in the downtrodden female.
To read about some of the women I admire, see my list
The illustration is a goddess seated on an animal throne, sixth millenium BCE, Catal HÃƒÂ¼yÃƒÂ¼k, Anatolia.