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Freedom for Women in a Postwar Iraq

May 30, 2003

"Baghdad Women Shrouded in Fear" (May 26) explains why Iraqi women have been almost completely out of the postwar picture. In the glut of reports coming from the region there has been, with rare exceptions, a distinct shortage of the woman's voice, the woman's perspective. This article underscored what I fear is one of the most devastating casualties of the war -- freedom for Iraqi women.

The 2002 CIA World Factbook states that there are over 7 million women between the ages of 15 and 64 in Iraq, making up nearly half the population. Iraq has historically been a secular society, albeit under the oppressive thumb of a vicious dictator. But now it's a new day, and rather than moving forward into a better future, it looks like Iraqi women are being forced to go back in time and trade old horrors for new ones. They aren't afraid of Saddam Hussein anymore; they're afraid of their own men.

The exiled Islamic Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr Hakim declared he "want[s] an Islam that is compatible with independence, justice and freedom." He is only one of many such religious leaders vying for a stronghold in Iraq's future government, and I hope his proclamation of an Islam that is independent, just and free means that Iraqi women will ultimately have a choice about how they observe their religion and how the government evolves as well. But until women can walk around without fear of their own countrymen kidnapping and raping them, it's difficult to imagine how Iraq will ever be truly liberated, let alone independent, just and free.

Cheryl Saban

Los Angeles


Why is it that men fight wars and women are always the ones who have to deal with the consequences? If the war in Iraq was one of liberation, why then are the women not liberated from fear, oppression and old traditions? What will it take to set the women free?

Angeline Nguyen

Long Beach

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