“Sacrificed to the Surge”

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That would be the women of Iraq. From Newsweek:

… At the national level, some women are still fighting to open up Iraqi society. Women’s Affairs Minister Narmin Othman, for instance, is waging a campaign against “honor killings.” If a man kills a straying wife or a daughter suspected of engaging in sex before marriage, he faces a maximum of three years in jail under Iraqi law. “Killing is killing,” says Othman, a Kurdish woman partial to blue jeans and Ralph Lauren reading glasses. If an Iraqi woman kills a cheating husband, the charge is murder. Othman says men should get the same treatment.

But she faces stiff resistance from the religious parties leading the government. They claim Othman's proposal is contrary to Islam (a point disputed by some respected scholars). The Justice Ministry has refused even to provide Othman with official statistics on how many honor killings come to court. So far she and her allies have collected only 70 signatures, far short of the number necessary to get the bill considered by Parliament. She's in no hurry to bring it to a vote. "I think we would lose," she says. "We have to try to have more discussion and do more lobbying." She's not giving up. A similar measure has been adopted by leaders of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

Iraqi parliamentarian Samira Musawi worries that the Americans are sacrificing the possibility of a more liberal Iraq by putting too much trust in groups like the Sahwa. "There is a lot of respect for tribal sheiks, but a lot of them are not educated," she says. As she sees it, the less education they have, the more reactionary their views tend to be, especially on issues like women's rights. The Americans should be more cautious about building up the Sahwa, she says: "There have to be criteria."

But at present, U.S. forces are too pleased by the sharp drop in jihadist attacks to lose sleep over things like gender issues. "They're going to find their own level about what is acceptable," says Col. Martin Stanton, one of the Sahwa program's U.S. coordinators. "In terms of what they're doing within their own culture, I don't think we'd intervene in that." The Coalition has let Shiite groups impose their values across much of the south for years for the sake of stability; women there mostly go veiled now, and some have quit their jobs under pressure from Shiite militia members. ...

Via Reclusive Leftist.

--Ann Bartow

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