Tuesday, July 06, 2010

1 million widows in Iraq

The successive wars in Iraq has left the nation with 1 million widows. 100,000 of that total became widows after the US invasion of the country. The many years of war has left the population with too few men for the widows to find new companionship. The struggling Iraqi government is of no help either as it is unable to provide support to all of the women.

From this Associated Press article that we found at the Rock Hill Herald, writer Hamza Hendawi gives us more background on the plight or Iraq's widows.

Nahdah Hameed, the government's point person on women's social affairs, puts the number of widows at about 1 million, and even though the post-invasion violence has wound down, sporadic shootings and bombings continue to widow Iraqi women.

Besides the invasion, this nation of 27 million has gone through the 1980-88 war with Iran, the 1991 Gulf war, and Saddam Hussein's brutal campaigns against the Shiites and Kurds in the 1980s and 1990s.

The post-2003 widows make a sharp contrast to those who lost husbands in previous wars. Saddam, flush with oil money, lavished plots of land, cars and generous pensions on the widows of the Iraq-Iran war, in which half a million Iraqis and Iranians died.

But the widows of the tens of thousands who died in Saddam's internal wars on Shiites, Kurds and political opponents in general usually were left struggling.

Mubarak and other women's activists say poverty is driving some Iraqi women into prostitution, both in Iraq and in neighboring Jordan and Syria, home to the Arab world's largest Iraqi refugee communities.

"Many of Iraq's neighbors are exploiting Iraqi women," said activist Suzan Kazim Kashkoul.

Also, she and other advocates say, the post-U.S. invasion violence has shrunk the pool of potential husbands for widows as well as single women over 30, and in the sectarian-charged postwar atmosphere, Sunni-Shiite marriages have become rare. The economy is in trouble yet the housing market is hot, making housing unaffordable for many.

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