Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Women in Iraq

Remember Laura Bush embracing Afghan women, having made a special trip there this spring to celebrate how far women's rights have come in that region? Remember how she didn't visit Iraq to make a similar celebration? Wonder why? Perhaps because Iraqi women actually had some limited civil rights pre-Bush attack. Well, those rights will go by the wayside, if one of the newest drafts of the Iraq Constitution is adopted.

The Shiites are pushing a substitution of religious law and religious clerics for civil laws and civil judges. Women would get "equal rights" as long as those rights don't conflict with religious law. Please. This would overturn 50 years of slow (two steps forward, one step back) progress for women in Iraq. Women could lose their right to choose their own husbands, property rights, and other civil protections Westerners take so for granted.

Committee member Khydayer al-Khuzai said Muslims would be free to choose which Islamic sect they want to be judged by under the proposed civil law "We will not force anyone to adopt any sect at all. People are free to choose the sect they see as better or more legitimate. This is implemented in marriage, inheritance and all civil rights," he said. But most of these issues involve more than one person. What happens when two different sects are involved? Whose law prevails? And that begs the whole questions of a separation of church and state.

According to the NYTimes, there are less than 10 women who have joined al-Khuzai at work on this legal document, out of the 71 members of the drafting committee. Well, now. That seems guaranteed to produce a fair document.

So where is the concern about this? Outrage wouldn't be too large an emotion, in my opinion. Do women get sacrificed in the attempt to include all sects and religions in Iraq? Once again, the US has failed to fully reckon with just how difficult it would be to achieve a constitutional result that would protect all citizens yet satisfy all citizens.

Back to The First Lady for a moment. Earlier, regarding the status of women in Iraq, Mrs. Bush said women are expected to play an important role in drafting Iraq’s constitution and she expressed hope that the constitution would “firmly establish the principles of representative and transparent government, democracy and universal human rights for all future generations of Iraqis.” Um. Not. Think you need to give George a little elbow in the ribs again, Laura.

Of course, it didn't work with the whole woman on SCOTUS issue, but it's worth a try. Might save a few women from being stoned for adultery. Seems like a noble and worthy cause for a First Lady to support, don't you think?

Until tomorrow,


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