Iraq

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Women and women’s rights in Iraq have been – and continue to be – affected by the country’s recent wars and the current internal conflict. Between 1960 and 1980, Iraqi women had gained access to education, health care and employment, and their political and economic participation was significantly advanced.[1] But women suffered considerably during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, with many becoming widows and having to support their families, although at the same time, the shortage of men enabled women to enter fields of education and employment that had previously been closed to them.[2] UN sanctions imposed after the first Gulf War (1991) caused further hardship for the Iraqi people, and since the 2003 war-, women’s position and security in society has markedly deteriorated.[3] As of 2009, though, this appears to be improving and, according to Freedom House, there has been an increase in the number of women visible in public life as a result.[4]
Iraq’s new Constitution (adopted in 2005) states that all Iraqis are equal before the law and prohibits discrimination based on sex (at Article 14).[5] However, the Constitution also cites Islam as the basic source of legislation and forbids the passing of laws contradictory to its “established rulings”, and Article 41 allows each religious group in Iraq to govern its own personal status matters.[6]As a result, the situation of women in Iraq very much depends on the implementation of Islamic law and on the priorities of male religious authorities.[7] Iraq ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1986, but has yet to ratify the Optional Protocol on violence against women.[8] Iraq maintains reservations to Article 2 (f ) and (g), which call on states to modify or abolish existing laws and penal codes that discriminate against women; Article 9, which requires equal rights regarding changes and transfers of nationality; Article 16, which concerns the elimination of discrimination in marriage and family relations; and Article 29, paragraph 1, with regard to the principle of international arbitration on the interpretation or application of the convention.[9]
 

[1] Ahmed (2010) pp.157-158 [2] Ahmed (2010) pp.159, 173 [3] Ahmed (2010) p.159 [4] Freedom House (2010) [5] Ahmed, Huda (2010) p.161 [6] Ahmed, Huda (2010) pp.160, 161 [7] Ahmed, Huda (2010) p.160 [8] United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.) [9] Ahmed (2010) pp.164-165 

 

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