The Countdown to the Jaafari Law Decision

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On April 30th the Jaafari Personal Status Law will be voted on in the Iraqi Parliament. The Jaafari Law, as it's being referred to, has been controversial because it would enable Shia men to marry girls as young as 9 years old. Whereas the legal age for marriage in Iraq is 18 years of age, the Jaafari Law does not state an age limit for marriage, but spells out the divorce conditions for girls who have reached the age of 9. This piece of legislation, nonetheless, would also legalize marital rape … [Read more...]

Hayv Kahraman: ”Telling Tales of Horror with a Demure Grace”

Hayv Kahraman, Collective Cut, via Art Slant

Hayv Kahraman is an Iraqi artist whose work reflects on issues of gender, looking at the victimization of women during war, and the effects of practices such as honor killings and genital mutilation, as well as alienation, marginalization, and displacement. Kahraman addresses these contemporary issues through paintings which have a classical and timeless feel to them, her delicate and elegant work in tension with the complex issues and painful real-world realities which she often takes as her … [Read more...]

On Mannequins and Messaging in the New York Times

This article was written for Muslimah Media Watch by Anny Gaul.Yesterday, The New York Times ran an article about what Iraqi women are wearing these days. It paints a picture of a once-secular society’s pluralism run amok: “Vendors around the Kadhimiya mosque in northern Baghdad sell all manner of women’s clothing, from drape-like black abayas to racy evening wear. But on a recent afternoon, Hameed Ibrahim ushered his family toward a different kind of fashion display.” The piece goes on to des … [Read more...]

The New Pornographers: Operation Iraqi Freedom?

Few people would agree that pornography has hardly been an indicator of freedom or political stability. Some more would also agree that it is not a universal symbol of advancement or female empowerment. Nonetheless, this week Tarek El-Tablawy, an Associated Press writer, affirmed that pornography availability mirrors Iraq’s improvements in security and politics.More surprising, however, is the fact that many well-known websites published his article with little or no analysis. Websites such as … [Read more...]

Missionary Rhetoric: A Cry of Need from Lands of Darkness

When Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale, a feminist dystopia set in a world run by a totalitarian theocracy, she said that she hadn't "invented anything," but taken her inspiration from fundamentalist Christianity in the United States, and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, among other things.In the context of the war on Afghanistan, Mary Adams wrote in World Literature Today that there is a need to "reread The Handmaid's Tale after the Taliban:" For those of us who read The Handmaid Tale … [Read more...]

Pimp My Daughter: Iraqi Women and Prostitution

I saw the movie Taken with my friend and her husband the other day and walked out of the theater feeling scared. It’s not a horror movie; the plot focuses on the sex trafficking of young women. The buyers are rich Arab men, of course.I wanted to be angry with the filmmakers for portraying Arab men as the root of all evil, but then I thought of Iraq and how prostitution sky-rocketed after the 2003 invasion.While I blame men for female prostitution, because it's their demand for the product … [Read more...]

Rock the Vote: Media Coverage of Women in Iraqi Elections

Last week’s Iraqi elections received lots of media coverage, but at MMW we were mostly fascinated by women candidates, especially since election rules require 30% of the candidates be female. The Huffington Post defines Iraq's exercise in democracy as rebellious, while the Gulf News qualified it as an act of political maturity. I'll take a closer look at CNN and The Guardian. There was mostly positive coverage at CNN. This article shows how Iraqi women contributed to their society, even before t … [Read more...]


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