Cablegate: Women Demonstrate Against Draft Constitution
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UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003014
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE HANDLE
ACCORDINGLY. NOT FOR INTERNET DISSEMINATION.
E.O. 12958 DECL: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV IZ KWM
SUBJECT: WOMEN DEMONSTRATE AGAINST DRAFT CONSTITUTION
PROVISIONS ON EQUALITY AND PERSONAL RIGHTS
1. (U) PolFSN witnessed a sit-in demonstration on
July 19 that was organized and sponsored by the Iraqi
Women's Net. (NOTE: The Iraqi Women's Net is a network
of more than 75 women's non-governmental organizations
(NGO). END NOTE.) The sit-in took place in a tent
overlooking the Sheraton and Meridian hotels at
Firdous Square in Baghdad's city center. The aim of
the sit-in demonstration was to protest several
articles proposed for inclusion in the draft
constitution. (NOTE: There is still no "final text"
of a draft constitution, but debate on what should be
included continues. END NOTE.)
2. (U) More than 30 NGOs and approximately 150 women
from all over Iraq attended the sit-in. Participants
included the Iraqi Women's Net, Al Amal, Women for
Peace, Iraqi Women's League, Baghdad Women's
Association, Faili Kurd Women's Union, Sara
Organization, Communist Party, Iraqi Women's Freedom
Organization, and the Chaldo-Assyrian Women's Union.
3. (U) The sit-in focused on several aspects of a
proposed draft constitution that has been provided to
and disseminated by the press and NGOs, as well as
Constitution Committee and National Assembly members.
The women raised specific issues during this event,
including the question of nationality, equal and
guaranteed rights for women as mothers, workers, and
citizens, the prevention of violence against women,
and the quota system.
4. (U) The women demanded that the constitution
drafting deadline be extended, rejected the
reactivation of Proposition 137 (septel), and lobbied
for a quota for female representation of not less than
40 percent in all decision-making positions. They
also rejected any time limitations on this quota
requirement. Additionally, the group said it wants
international human rights standards and agreements as
a source for Iraqi legislation.
5. (U) Both local and international media covered the
event. Among those present were Al Hurra TV, Sawa
Radio, Associated Press, Turkish TV, BBC, CNN, French
TV, "New York Times," Reuters, Iraqiya TV, Fayha'a TV,
and Sumariya TV. Numerous representatives of women's
organizations spoke to the media, including Hana'a
Edwar (Al Amal), Shirooq Hussain (Tareeq Al Sha'ab
newspaper), Bashaier Khalil (Iraqi Women's League),
and Shatha Naji (Women for Peace).
6. (SBU) COMMENT. The women attending the sit-in
strike represented the spectrum of Iraq's ethnic and
religious diversity. Their message was translated
into a series of recommendations that was submitted to
the Constitution Committee. However, there are many
Islamic women who support a more prominent role for
Shari'a in the draft constitution. According to the
media, these women held a counter-protest to the
Firdous Square event. Throughout the constitution
drafting process and in the run-up to the referendum,
it is important for women to continue to organize and
participate in similar efforts to ensure that they
have a voice in the political process. END COMMENT.