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Kamala Sarup: Women In Iraq War Continue Victims

Women In Iraq War Continue Victims


By Kamala Sarup

"Many Iraqi Women and Children want to be able to go to the market without being afraid." These words spoken by 21 years old my own brother Jitendra who is in Iraq, working with American Army.

Political instability and the Maoist insurgency have droves leaving him our old town home Nepal so left the country and reached to Iraq for employment. As it is difficult to survive the deteriorating conditions in Nepali villages, large number of young people tend to leave their villages looking for better opportunities even going to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I came to Iraq because people including women were being killed in Nepal. We were very scared. All of us fled. Many other people in our town have had similar experiences. But when I came to Iraq I see, with the escalation of murders, bombings, and other forms of violence and disruptions, thousands of Iraqi women and children have problems of depression. The indirect effect is much larger." He sent me an email.

War Times, December 2003 reported "The situation for women is worse now than before the war," said Eman Ahmed Khammas, director of the Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad. Yanar Mohammed, co-founder of a new Iraqi group called the Organization of Women's Freedom, agrees: "Organized gangs are kidnapping women, to be exploited and sometimes to be sold. This has created fear and horror for women."

State Press, 3/2/04 said "Things are a lot worse now. There's no security. Women cannot go out, cannot express themselves. The veil has become compulsory for Muslims and Christians. This situation has forced many Iraqi women to re-order their lives, wearing the hijab for the first time and only traveling with male relatives".

Yesterday A Swiss institute reported "Nearly 40,000 Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of combat or armed violence since the US-led invasion. A study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, last October that said there had been 100,000 "excess deaths" in Iraq from all causes since March 2003. Military deaths in the US-led coalition forces are closely tracked and now total 1937. The Swiss institute said it arrived at its estimate of Iraqi deaths resulting solely from combat or armed violence by re-examining the data gathered for the Lancet study and classifying, when it could, the cause of death.

Report also says "Despite billions of dollars of improvements, thousands of jammers and tonnes of armour plate, the so-called improvised explosive devices in Iraq killed more Americans in May and June than in any previous months, US military figures show. Attacks in May alone reached 700, and the roadside bombs, car bombs and other devices are now the cause of more than half of US casualties in Iraq".

"Iraqi women unemployment in the cities is twice as high as male unemployment. Iraq war has produced poverty, unemployment, internal migration. As refugee women are especially most vulnerable. Because of the war, many women are separated from their families". Jitendra my brother is one of hundreds of thousands of Nepali boys directly affected by the Maoists war who went to Iraq for employment said.

"Kamala, cities and towns are the battlefield and women and children the victims in Iraq. With the destruction the women and children are badly affected in Iraq. Thousands of women and children have lost their husbands, and parents". He said yesterday.

"People can't expect girls and children to grow up normally amid guns and explosives. We can see that thousands of women and children have been killed in Iraq. This figure will go up". Jitendra further said.

"On the other side, the exploitation of women and children in the ranks of the Iraqi rebels must end. In order to solve the issue of the war and guarantee human rights to the Iraqi women, all have to arrive at a conclusion on how this challenge to the security of the women can be met. Innocent people and women have been victims. Attacks occur in different parts of the country, so the situation is very tense.". Jitendra said.

Even today Mr. Khalilzad, said the United States is willing to talk to some elements of the Iraqi insurgency. " Iraqis who have an interest in a successful Iraq, who would like to live in a situation where minority rights are protected, where Iraq can work for Iraqis. So, yeah, we're willing, in cooperation with the Iraqi government and others, to talk to them," he said. My brother Jitendra said. "The Iraq war ruined dozens of lives. On the other hand Iraqi people have also a particular dread of terrorism. The atmosphere of terror ruined the Iraqi national economy also. A humanitarian crisis is taking place in Iraq. Terrorist activities cannot and should not be tolerated but Iraq war is also not good for the people here. Iraqi people do not want war. They want peace".

It is true, the wars being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq are the immediate objectives of this war against terrorists. Even we Nepali speaking world energetically condemns terrorism, but we do not like any war including Iraq war to Maoists war.

In the past several years, the war has continued not only in Iraq or in Nepal but in Sierra Leone, Burundi, Angola, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Congo. Several years after mass killings in Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda, there are at least six major cases of genocide. The mass killings of Armenians by Turks, Jews by Hitler, Cambodians by the Khamer Rouge, Kurds of the northern Iraq by Saddam Hussein, Tutsi of Rwanda by the Hutu and of Croats, Muslims the Albanians of Kosovo by the Serbs. .

There have been nearly thirteen thousands six hundred wars since thirty six B.C. The toll of human misery measures around thirty millions direct battle deaths since Waterloo and one hundred million since three thousands six B.C. Then there are uncountable deaths, broken bodies and lives from the ravages and effects of these wars. About ninety five million of people have been killed in communist countries only.

Suffering of civilians in war is increases substantially during any kind of war. In the first World War, five percent of the casualties were civilians, and in the second World War, the figure was fifty five percent. Since then civilians have accounted for ninety percent of the casualties.

Peace is an essential aspect of the safer world from Iraq to Nepal.

*************

(A Nepali journalist Kamala Sarup is an editor of http://www.peacejournalism.com)

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