American Friends Service Committee
Sara Burke, Managing Editor
Sam Diener, Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
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Iraqi Governing Council Initiates Shari’a: Iraqi Women Protest
Excerpts from the statement of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq on the Governing Council’s adoption of Islamic Shari’a, issued January 14, 2004, www.equalityiniraq.com/english.htm. Al-Taakhhi reported on January 27, 2004, that hundreds of women in Kirkuk protested against Shari’a, www.iwpr.net.
In a step aimed at eliminating all progressive gains achieved by Iraqi women through years of tireless struggle, and against the aspirations of women and the progressive and egalitarian masses in Iraq, the Governing Council has announced the abolition of Iraqi family law and will replace it with Islamic Shari’a.
Saddam’s regime had already repealed articles of the Iraqi family law in order to implement centuries-old Islamic Shari’a, including those condoning honor killing. They beheaded sex workers and launched the so-called faith campaign to impose compulsory veiling on women.
However, today’s announcement by the US puppet Governing Council goes well beyond Saddam’s compromises with the Islamists. Their closed door decision replaces the Civil Personal Status Laws of 1958, with religious law and Islamic Shari’a.
Iraqi society will not stand for the implementation of laws which became invalid a half-century ago. Iraqi society is secular. Iraqi women and men never imagined overthrowing Baathist fascism only to replace it with an Islamic dictatorship. The Governing Council plans to recreate the miseries of women in Afghanistan, Iran, and the Sudan, who are striving to emancipate themselves from the hell of Political Islam. These laws will be catastrophic for women and go against the will of the Iraqi masses.
Our protests in Baghdad and all over the world will deny the Islamic groups any chance to impose their medieval laws on the masses of Iraq. We call on all defenders of gender equality and women’s freedom to add their voices to the voices of women in Iraq. The swords of Islamic Shari’a are in sight threatening the lives and the rights of women in Iraq.
For full gender equality. For a secular state in Iraq.
Founding Statement of the Iraq Women's Rights Coalition
The contact person for the coalition is anti-war and women’s rights advocate Houzan Mahmood. This was written before the Governing Council initiated Shari’a. See www.equalityiniraq.com/iwrc.htm
This is a network of various women’s rights activists and organizations aiming to influence the policy-making of the new -government in Iraq. It aims to ensure that women’s equal rights are secured and a -secular constitution is established.
We wish to make it clear that we believe in the rights of each and every individual to practice their freedoms in all spheres as they choose. We are proposing the complete separation of government and religion in Iraq, to establish the only possible chance of secular rule, which is inclusive of all Iraqis, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, or political opinion.
We are a group of Iraqi women who are extremely concerned about women’s rights and freedom in Iraq. We have decided to set up this coalition due to the regime change in Iraq. We are working together to make sure that the new constitution will exclude all codes and laws which are based on Shari’a law and which discriminate against women. Iraqi women have suffered from many forms of discrimination, which has led to the infliction of violence — rape, torture, domestic violence, and ‘honor killings’ — under the Ba’athist regime for more than two decades.
Women have also suffered institutionalized oppression in the form of the prohibition of choice of marital and sexual partners; the lack of rights concerning divorce; denial of freedom of expression in political life; denial of access to independent travel; and enforced veiling in certain regions of Iraq.
Now that the war is over there is a chance for us, as Iraqi women, to impose our fair demands on the new government and to put an end to the active discrimination that has been practiced in Iraq against women.
We advocate the abolition of the Iraqi ‘Personal Status Law,’ which governs the codes of practice and legal rights (or what we term ‘non-rights’) of women, as it is based too heavily on Shari’a law.
We advocate for the abolishment of torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishments against women.
The following rights of women are to be enshrined