Iraqi women face ’silent emergency’

March 8th, 2009 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, March 8 (DPA) Poverty, lack of security, and a lack of basic services have created a “silent emergency” for Iraqi women, a study released Sunday found.
A survey of 1,700 Iraqi women conducted by the Iraqi non-governmental organisation al-Amal and released by the international charity Oxfam in honour of International Women’s Day Sunday found that a majority of women had been victims of violence, and that their personal safety was still their primary concern.

“Women are the forgotten victims of Iraq. Despite the billions of dollars poured into rebuilding Iraq and recent security gains, a quarter of the women interviewed still do not have daily access to water, a third cannot send their children to school and since the war started, over half have been the victim of violence,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs.

The study found that 75 percent of women surveyed said their income had either declined or stayed the same since 2006, that more than half of those who had access to water said it was not drinkable, and that more than 80 percent said that access to electricity had not improved over the past three years.

“Our area has been changed as a result of the constant acts of violence,” Nour, a resident of Baghdad’s Sadr City, told al-Amal. “The situation here is now worse than it used to be before as a consequence of the spread of the epidemics with unhealthy water and trash and corpses in the streets.”

Emman, another woman surveyed, recalled finding her son and daughter in a Baghdad morgue after a November 2007 bomb attack.

“I wished I were dead when I saw their bodies in the morgue piled on top of each other. I can’t forget the scene of them even for one moment,” Emman said.

Oxfam and al-Amal found that 76 percent of widows were not receiving the pensions to which Iraqi law says they are entitled.

“A whole generation of Iraqis are at risk. Mothers are being forced to make tough choices, such as whether to pay for their children to go to school and receive healthcare, or to pay for private power and water services,” Oxfam’s Hobbs said.

“These are choices no mother should have to make, and they are not only threatening individual families. They are also threatening the future of Iraq itself.”

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