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Women’s movement in Iraq faces setbacks

Although Iraq was once a pioneer in women’s rights in the region, Iraqi women have suffered a number of setbacks in recent years.
An Iraqi woman walks with her fully veiled daughter in Baghdad on March 18, 2014. A bill before Iraq's parliament that opponents say legalises child marriage and marital rape has sparked controversy ahead of elections as secular activists face off against the draft law's backers. The bill, the Jaafari Personal Status Law, sets out rules to do with inheritance, marriage and divorce. Supporters of the draft, named after a Shiite Muslim school of jurisprudence, say it simply
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When well-known feminist activist Mona Eltahawy put forth her theory that women are hated and detested in the Middle East, she faced objections from both men and women in various Arab countries. Yet, when we consider the Iraqi model and watch the decline and regression in the status of women and feminist activism, we might have no choice but to accept this theory.

Iraq was a pioneer of women's movements demanding equality between women and men in Arab countries. Very early on, Iraq saw the emergence of important figures who fought for women's rights and to liberate them from social and religious persecution. In 1910, the famed Iraqi poet and teacher Jamil Sidky Zahawi published an article in the Egyptian journal Al-Moayed about the need to liberate women from the shackles of backward social traditions. It was later republished in the Iraqi journal Tanweer al-Afkar. This article sparked a widespread social movement, with participants split between supporters and opponents of the idea.

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