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What Kind of Liberation?

What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq

Nadje Al-Ali
Nicola Pratt
Foreword by Cynthia Enloe
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    What Kind of Liberation?
    Book Description:

    In the run-up to war in Iraq, the Bush administration assured the world that America's interest was in liberation-especially for women. The first book to examine how Iraqi women have fared since the invasion,What Kind of Liberation?reports from the heart of the war zone with dire news of scarce resources, growing unemployment, violence, and seclusion. Moreover, the book exposes the gap between rhetoric that placed women center stage and the present reality of their diminishing roles in the "new Iraq." Based on interviews with Iraqi women's rights activists, international policy makers, and NGO workers and illustrated with photographs taken by Iraqi women,What Kind of Liberation?speaks through an astonishing array of voices. Nadje Al-Ali and Nicola Pratt correct the widespread view that the country's violence, sectarianism, and systematic erosion of women's rights come from something inherent in Muslim, Middle Eastern, or Iraqi culture. They also demonstrate how in spite of competing political agendas, Iraqi women activists are resolutely pressing to be part of the political transition, reconstruction, and shaping of the new Iraq.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94217-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Cynthia Enloe

    It’s happening. The country, the complex, dynamic society that is Iraq, is becoming “Iraq,” just as the complex, dynamic society that is Vietnam has become merely “Vietnam.” Starting as early as the late 1970s, one began to hear people casually saying, for instance, “Vietnam should have taught us a lesson” or “That song was popular during Vietnam.” As if Vietnam—with its history of Chinese and French colonizations, its poetry, its rice and rubber economies, its ethnic tensions between highlands and low country, its women activists’ fascination with the heroic Trung Sisters and the rebellious George Sand—as if Vietnam...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    (pp. 1-20)

    During International Women’s Week in 2004, a year after the invasion of Iraq, President Bush gave a speech to 250 women from around the world who had gathered at the White House. “The advance of women’s rights and the advance of liberty are ultimately inseparable,” he began. Supported by his wife, Laura, who praised the administration’s success in achieving greater rights for Afghan women, the president continued, “The advance of freedomin the greater Middle East has given new rights and new hopes to women there.” Of women leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq he added that they had displayed “incredible courage”...

    (pp. 21-54)

    A few days after Laura Bush’s visit to Afghanistan in March 2005, Nadje was invited to speak about the situation of Iraqiwomen on National Public Radio in the United States. Also live on the air was Charlotte Ponticelli, then senior coordinator for the International Women’s Issues Office within the State Department. Ponticelli spoke about Laura Bush’s visit and the great achievements of both Iraqi and Afghani women since their respective liberations. Her very positive account of the situation of Afghan women differed drastically from the stories we had heard from friends and colleagues who had traveled to Afghanistan and reported...

    (pp. 55-85)

    At the beginning of our research on the role of women in post-Saddam Iraq, we were presented with a paradox concerning the international community’s relation to women in the new Iraq. All of the people to whom we spoke—in Iraq, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Jordan— agreed that the participation of women in postconflict reconstruction was important. Decision makers and program implementers in the U.S. and U.K. governments, international and multilateral organizations, and NGOs were all eager to tell us about the measures they were taking to include women in postconflict reconstruction and about examples of women’s...

    (pp. 86-120)

    “Women entered a lot of professions under Saddam. However, they did not hold key positions. Under the sanctions, laws were introduced that were against women. With the fall of Saddam, women can now occupy high positions. However, the violence against women is a problem,” Mishkat Moumin, one of five women ministers in the outgoing government of Iyad Allawi, told Nicola in February 2005. Despite the everincreasing violence, the first free elections of the new Iraq had been held a couple of weeks before this conversation, on January 30, 2005. They represented an important milestone for millions of Iraqis, as well...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 121-162)

    In the summer of 2006, a London-based women’s organization called Act Together: Women’s Action for Iraq invited one of the leading women’s rights activists from Iraq to help raise consciousness about the deteriorating situation of women under occupation.¹ Aside from talking about the general difficulties related to the increasing violence, chaos, lawlessness, and collapsed infrastructure, Sundus Abass and other Iraqi women activists inside Iraq wanted help in their campaign against an article of the Iraqi constitution that threatened women’s rights in relation to family affairs. As we discussed in the previous chapter, Article 41 of the new constitution abolished the...

    (pp. 163-180)

    During the summer of 2007, as we were busy writing the last chapters of this book, the stark realities of life under occupation—its lawlessness, chaos, and escalating violence—hit very close to home. On August 1, 2007, Nadje’s uncle and her sixteen-year-old cousin were killed in their home in the al-Mansour neighborhood of Baghdad. Unmasked gunmen entered the house and shot both as they were having their lunch. While the motivation for the killing—whether political or sectarian—remains unclear, the consequences of their deaths went beyond the tragic loss of two family members. The wife of Nadje’s uncle,...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 181-186)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-206)
  15. Index
    (pp. 207-221)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 222-222)