Foreign Policy Blogs

Iraqi Women's Voices

The Institute of War and Peace Reporting has a new series called Iraqi Women's Voices.  The first one, also printed in the Middle East Times, is called “Life After the Islamic State,” about a woman whose Baghdad neighborhood, once secular and free of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide, fell under the sway of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

My parents are liberal and never told me what to wear, so I enjoyed a lot of freedom growing up. The new restrictions were difficult for me to take. I have complied with the new "laws" of my neighbourhood, while my blood silently boiled.

The consequences of not complying were made clear. A friend of mine once rushed into my house, her voice trembling as she told me how she had almost been killed. The skirt she was wearing was long but too tight-fitting, and caught the eye of a militiaman who stopped her and threatened to kill her if she ever dared to leave the house like that again.

Boys were banned from wearing shorts or certain hairstyles that might stand out. The school I once attended is gender-segregated now. After it was attacked and a pupil killed, children stopped going to class.

Our once-bustling central shopping street emptied, and all of the shops were forced to close.

It was one of the worst times of my life, and I hope that it remains a thing of the past.

She reports that things have improved as the security situation has gotten better.  It is worth a read, and we will keep our eye on this series.



Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill is a freelance writer currently based out of Chicago. He has lived in Egypt and in Yemen, and worked as a writer and editor for the Yemen Observer publishing company. He currently is an analyst with the Jamestown Foundation.