On the Iraqi Vote and Women
I brought these over from my web page since I kept wanting to go back and add information....
Well, it's really late January, and the Iraqi elections are going on. It feels so hard to tell what is really happening -- if the rhetoric were true, it would be great. I can't quite believe it. I read a very interesting editorial by Houzan Mahmoud in today's paper that dealt with the fate of women in Iraq - and made a strong case that women's freedoms (from basic physical freedom to freedom of choice) are eroding, and that they have been eroding since the occupation. Houzan concludes that the elections are likely to erode that freedom further.
After reading Azar Nafiz's "Reading Lolita in Tehran" I find that case very believable. We are creating and strengthening the insurgency by our very existence in Iraq, and perhaps driving many individuals into the arms of the fanatic segments of Iraqi society. And in Iraq, that is generally Muslims on the far right (and not supportive of women's rights).
At the moment, we're waging an ideological war on the far-right Islamic groups, led by our own fanatic far right. I'm not sure I expect any better eventual outcome than we got in the crusades. The further we drive the Iraqi people to strict far-right Muslim beliefs (as opposed to much of Islam, which is generally about as militant as the local Unity church), the worse off Iraqi women are likely to end up. Martyrdom is a strong concept in both religions; Islam and Christianity become stronger when beleivers are being martyred.
Given how important strong, empowered, and educated women are to successful society, I'm convinced this is a true tragedy.
Now, I'm willing to stay hopeful it doesn't work out that way - that somehow the Iraqi people choose a representative democracy that respects everyone, regardless of gender or religious belief. That's the rhetoric, and it's fine with me if it turns out to be true.