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Leaflet produced for International Women's Day, 2006.




“Singin’ about a revolution
because were talkin’ about a change
its more than just evolution
well you know you got to clean your brain
the only way that we can stand in fact
is when you get your foot off our back”


Nina Simone, c1968 (“Revolution”)


The time has come for genuine international solidarity with the brave women of Iraq.  Iraqi women stood up to death threats and last year voted in their millions in two elections and a constitutional referendum.  We need to stand with these women who have made it so very clear that they won’t lie down in the face of threats from Jihadi terrorists and the remnants of Saddam’s Baath (fascist) regime. 

There will be all sorts of obstacles faced by the women of Iraq in the immediate future. Undoubtedly they will have to fight against attempts to introduce Sharia law in some regions.  The grip of backward ideas about the status of women will not be loosened without a fight. The good thing is that now that fight can happen – and it is happening. 

Most Australians who marched against the war in Iraq in 2003 now want to see Iraqi democracy succeed. They stand in solidarity with the 14 million Iraqis who ignored the threats of the so-called ‘resistance’ and voted in the elections. Those elections resulted in a proportionate representation of the diverse Iraqi electorate which consists of Kurds; Arabs; (Shia and Sunni)  Turkomen; Assyrians; Christians & atheists.

Those who still call for ‘Troops Out!’ undermine the blossoming of democracy in Iraq. Despite the moral authority vested in the new Iraqi National Assembly by the 14 million voters; despite the fact that Sunnis engaged more fully than ever in the electoral process; and despite U.N. support for the new parliament, the ‘Troops Out’ brigade persist in calling the elected Iraqi representatives “collaborators” and “puppets”. 

We should refuse to turn IWD rallies into anti-Iraq war peace rallies and, instead, raise the slogan of ‘Solidarity with Iraqi women’.

A legitimate Iraqi government will be established after protracted negotiations between these political representatives and it is a foregone conclusion that this government will call for continued military and economic assistance.  They must receive such assistance until the insurgents are defeated.  Iraq is the only home we have and, God willing, extremists will be worn out by our resilience.  But we cannot do it by ourselves alone and we need the support of the UN and the international community”.  - Violet Essa Qalaab, President of the Oil and Gas Union, Basrah, Iraq, 7 March 2006

Sharia Law?   It has been argued that things are now much worse for women and that there is a danger that Sharia Law will be instituted in Iraq.  Yet under the current Iraqi constitution all Iraqi women are now legally entitled to pursue both democratic and personal rights. 

Under Saddam Hussein’s ‘secular” fascist regime, western freedoms were the preserve of a tiny elite.  This was true for both women and men – but as always, women suffered from the added burden that comes from being female. It was Saddam Hussein’s regime that legalized honour killings in 1991 in order to gain support from radical Islamists. And it was the Baathists who, in 2000, instigated a ‘faithfulness’ campaign, in which 200 women were beheaded for 'immorality' in Baghdad and Mosul!  

The empowerment of Iraqi women is apparent not only  in the National Assembly but also in the thousands of NGOs which had been banned by the regime in 1991, and which are now flourishing with local and international support.

Of course the struggle is not yet over.  Iraqi women will still have to fight to maintain and extend what is written in their constitution. This will be a long struggle as such change does not arrive overnight, but ultimately it is revolutions which make laws and not vice versa.  

Peace at any price?

Peace at any price is never a real option when the alternative to war means continued oppression, greater loss of life and loss of hope

Western feminists should be applauding the overthrow of the Baathist tyranny just as we applauded the victory of the Vietnamese people in the 1970s.  Feminist 'tradition' teaches that if you are being raped you fight back; not turn the other cheek, and Iraqi women are fighting back. 

The US-based women’s group, CodePink, calls for the spreading of 'love for the human family'. This is just pap – identical to the type of crap spoken by the Pope.  It is meaningless to Iraqi women who struggle under arranged marriages, bride prices, the dowry system, temporary marriage provisions and honour killings.  The CodePink appeal comes pretty close to suggesting that we can have peace if we obey our husbands and dress modestly.  Frankly, progressive women prefer rebellion.

Like former Age Journalist Pamela Bone, we are mystified as to why more western feminists are not standing firmly against tyranny and lifting their voices in support of the revolutionary attempts to liberalise the entire Middle East. The cultural relativism is simply mind-boggling especially when the position is thinly disguised isolationism.

Western women should reflect upon our own continuing historical struggle against conservative sexual and family practices.  Spare a thought for Annette Kellerman who challenged the laws of decency in America early in the 20th century.  Reflect upon the work of Catherine Helen Spence who advocated representative government based upon Proportional Representation as well as Women’s Suffrage.  The Iraq electoral system is based on proportional representation - something we have yet to achieve!

It is quite bizarre that there can be people claiming to be on the Left politically yet they oppose the Coalition that happens to be crushing fascism and is helping build democracy. This way of “analysing” things, which sees anything done by America overseas as inherently bad, is no more than “left” sounding rhetoric camouflaging a world view which is deeply conservative and reactionary.  

The pseudos are here today and will tell us that all we can do is vote against Howard and attend rallies calling for the troops to be brought home.  If you are bored by such empty rhetoric and would like to join in discussions about building a genuine radical left, you might be interested in visiting our website, and joining in the debates happening there.

Peshmerger women  know what Nina Simone meant in her affirmative version of the Beatles’ song, “Revolution”.   (*Note Peshmerger is the name of the armed Kurdish militia who fought alongside the coalition troops in the North of Iraq to overthrow Saddam.  We are with them, and oppressed women everywhere who take up the gun to defend themselves.)  


also see discussion about this on our main forum.
Created by keza
Last modified 2006-03-09 06:56 PM

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