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Iraqi women mostly absent from political scene

Despite some gains made in recent decades, Iraqi women remain largely absent from the country’s political scene.
An Iraqi Marsh Arab stands as British soldiers patrol in Iraq's southern marshlands near Basra December 16, 2005, a day after [elections for the country's first full-term parliament since Saddam Hussein's overthrow. Millions of ballot papers were being counted and recounted on Friday as Iraqis celebrated a peaceful election that saw rebellious Sunni Arabs join in for the first time, pushing turnout close to 70 percent.] - RTXO2IL
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After the mid-1970s, when demands to grant Iraqi women equal rights in the different aspects of political, social, economic and military life were on the rise, a decision package was issued by the Iraqi government in line with these demands. For example, the personal status law was modified, granting women the right to file for divorce and prohibiting men from marrying a second wife without a prior written approval from the first. It also opened the door for women to join the police and military forces, rendering the sight of female officers in the army and police normal for Iraqis.

During the last 25 years, however, the empowerment of Iraqi women has witnessed a slump and men taking multiple wives has made a huge comeback. Political and civil work of women dwindled, after the former regime of Saddam Hussein led a ferocious attack against it and targeted the leaderships and popular bases of religious and leftist parties. In addition, the deteriorating economic situation — which resulted from the economic sanctions imposed in 1990 by the UN Security Council on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait — left women choosing between two devils, either stay at home, do the housework and raise the kids, or keep a state job with a salary that barely pays for transportation to get to work. Women were forced to opt for the first option.

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