Monday, January 26, 2004

Iraqi women call the GC to repeal resolution 137

Dr. Raja Al-Khuza'i, GC member, stated her opinion on resolution 137 and the position of women in post Saddam Iraq:

"I stand with Iraqi women. I suffered with them and I know very well the difficulties they faced over the last 3 decades. I will support them until they achieve the position they truly deserve.
At the moment I'm working on supporting young widows in the south of Iraq by collecting donations. I found out that there is a high percentage of young widows over there, in just one area in Diwania, we found 1500 young widowed women.
And regarding the resolution 137, I was shocked when I heard about it later as I was in Washington when the resolution was passed. I objected to it because it's unfair to Iraqi women. And if implemented it would definitely put women into an unfavourable position since the resolution would annul many laws that women worked hard to put into effect over the last decades. They have to understand that not all laws issued under the former regime were ungood. But inshallah we'll work on it, there is always time for retraction or compromise".

And judge Zakiya Ishmael gives her view on the situation:

"We strived for years to defend the Iraqi family institution. I've been struggling for women rights since the fifties. Women alone cannot progress without assistance from men, 'and how can a bird fly without both wings?' as our poet Al-Rasafi once said".
On resolution 137, she says:
"It's very regretful that the GC would issue such an unexpectable decision, that is totally unacceptable, moreover there is a lot of vagueness and weakness in the form and wording of the resolution. In my opinion the decision was taken hurriedly in the same way the former Revolutionary Council Command used to. The GC members should be aware of their huge responsibility and we will call them to account for any law that would harm Iraqi women or men, or that would tear apart Iraqi families".

Zakiya Khalifa, chairwoman of the Iraqi Woman Revival organization stated that the GC should have instead offered further accomplishments for Iraqi women that would fit with their role in rebuilding the new Iraqi society, and that would compensate for all the suffering and pain she went into through the many years of wars and sanctions:
"We were surprised with resolution 137, an innapropriate decision that should have never be made by a council that supposedly believes in progress and liberalism. Such a decision will never serve women or the role of Iraq in the modern world".

Hana Edward, secretary of the Iraqi Hope (Amal) Association says:
"We've been working since the fall of the dictatorship to emphasize the role of Iraqi women in the new Iraq. We made several programs in order for Iraqi women to actively participate in establishing democracy, justice, and equality in the community".

Bushra Yousif, a columnist in Azzaman daily Baghdad edition, writes:
"Finally, the Iraqi woman broke her silence... Rushing forward in crowds, crying on the top of her voice to be heard... After it was choked for long years... It wasn't just resolution 137 that provoked this volcano of rage to erupt... It was long endless years of repression and deprivation... Endless years in which women were imprisoned behind bars... Years of suffering which went by without a word of complaint".

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On the other hand there were women demonstrations yesterday at Fardus square in support for GC resolution 137. Tens of veiled women carried banners that condemned the objections raised by other women who were described as 'apostates from Islam representing only themselves'. The demonstrators shouted slogans such as "Yes to divine law and No to man's written law", and "We are Iraqi women.. Our grandmothers said No.. And we say NO TO SECULARISM".

A statement was distributed after the demonstration which regarded the objections against the resolution as 'an expression of buried grudge and hate against Islam'. The statement concluded that 'Resolution 137 affirms basic freedoms in the new Iraq and allows each citizen to express his personal faith and hereby decide for himself the matters of his personal circumstances whereas the former civil code supressed these freedoms and required all to comply with a specific law'.

Um Kawthar, a demonstrator, said: "We will enforce this law in every way possible. Islam is the only right law that preserves women rights, all the previous laws were oppressive and unfair to women".

Sheikh Adnan Al-Tamimi, who attended the demonstrations said that "All divine laws ensure the protection of women rights more than any civil law could. The objections against this resolution betray an ignorance of Islam and its true message".

(Translated from Azzaman Baghdad edition).