“Contrary to its rhetoric and its international legal obligations, the Bush Administration has refused to protect women’s rights in Iraq. In fact, it has decisively traded women’s rights for cooperation from the Islamists it has empowered.”
In spring 2003, as the smoke began to clear from the US invasion of Iraq, a wave of kidnappings, abductions, public beatings, death threats, sexual assaults, and killings gripped the country. The targets were women. US authorities took no action and soon the violence spread. Killings of Iraqi men and foreigners became commonplace as Islamist militias launched a campaign of terror that mushroomed into the civil war now raging across Iraq. While the militias were taking to the streets, their political leaders were taking their seats in a new Iraqi government. With money, weapons, training, and political backing from the United States, Iraqi Islamists have put an end to 85 years of secular rule in Iraq and established an Islamist theocracy. As Yanar Mohammed, director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI, a partner organization of MADRE) said, “We used to have a government that was almost secular. It had one dictator. Now we have almost 60 dictators – Islamists who think of women as forces of evil. This is what is called the democratization of Iraq.” 
Since 2003, the media has documented Iraq’s mounting civilian death toll. A few accounts have also described the ongoing rise in violence against women. But few analyses have examined the relationship between these phenomena. Most casualty reports by governments, the United Nations, and human rights organizations have not disaggregated data by sex. They fail, therefore, to reflect the growing number of attacks on Iraqi women and the rising incidence in gender-based attacks. For women have not only been targeted because they are members of the civilian population; Iraqi women – in particular those who are perceived to pose a challenge to the political project of their attackers – have increasingly been targeted because they are women.
This report explores the scourge of gender-based violence in US-occupied Iraq. It documents the use of gender-based violence by Islamists seeking to establish a theocracy, including assaults on women in the public sphere, “honor killings,” violence against women in the context of Iraq’s civil war, gender-based violence against men, and torture of women in detention.
Contrary to its rhetoric and its international legal obligations, the Bush Administration has refused to protect women’s rights in Iraq. In fact, it has decisively traded women’s rights for cooperation from the Islamists it has empowered. This tactic has relied on and reproduced ideas about violence against women and ideas about Muslims that serve to justify US intervention in the Middle East. For example, although most assaults on women occur in public, violence against Iraqi women continues to be perceived mainly as a “private” or family matter, somehow outside the realm of “politics.” Meanwhile, characterizations of violence against Iraqi women as “cultural” in nature deemphasize the ways that such violence is used as a means toward political ends and obscures the role of the United States in fomenting gender-based violence. Critiquing these assumptions is key to supporting Iraqi women who are combating gender-based violence, military occupation, and religious coercion.
(The term “Islamist” in this report refers to those who pursue a reactionary social and political agenda in the name of Islam, as distinct from “Islamic” relating to the religion of Islam. )
Part I. Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq
One widely predicted outcome of the US overthrow of Iraq’s Ba’ath government was the empowerment of Islamist forces. The Bush Administration denied this probability, choosing to repeat the hollow assurances of CIA informants such as Ahmed Chalabi, who promised that Saddam Hussein’s successors would be secular and democratic. But MADRE and other women’s organizations around the world warned that right-wing, religious extremists would be the greatest beneficiaries of a US invasion.
Indeed, the two most powerful Iraqi political parties to emerge under US occupation are the Dawa Party – which has called for an Islamist state in Iraq since the 1970s  – and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) – a name that hardly disguises the party’s intent. These forces stepped into the political vacuum created by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and immediately began using their new-found power to roll back women’s rights. In fact, under US occupation, violence against women – including public beatings, abductions, rapes, and assassinations – has occurred within the context of a rapid erosion of women’s legal rights and political participation. That trend was set in motion by the US-sponsored Iraqi government.
The Iraqi Governing Council Attacks Women’s Rights
In summer 2003, L. Paul Bremer, the top administrator of the US occupation, assembled the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), described by The Washington Post as, “a body that will cooperate with [the occupation] and support policies that are generally in line with US interests.”  The members of the IGC were hand-picked by Bremer, who retained final veto over the Council’s decisions. Among those who Bremer appointed were Islamists who openly declared their intent to restrict women’s rights.  These same men are the architects of Iraq’s civil war. One of the first acts of the US-installed IGC was a harbinger of things to come: the Council replaced Iraq’s observance of International Women’s Day on March 8 with a celebration of the birthday of the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.
Then, on December 29, 2003, the IGC held a quasi-secret vote to replace Iraq’s 1959 family law – among the most progressive in the region. The family law (also referred to as the personal status law) was enacted in 1959 by the left-leaning government of Abd Al Karim Qasim, who was later overthrown by the Ba’athists (with support from the United States). According to Huibin Amee Chew, “Aspects of the progressive family law persisted until the eve of the US invasion, when Iraq still remained exceptional in the region. Divorce cases were to be heard only in civil courts, polygamy was outlawed unless the first wife consented, and women divorcees had an equal right to custody over their children. Women’s income was recognized as independent from their husbands’.”  The law also restricted child marriage and granted women and men equal shares of inheritance. 
Through Resolution 137, IGC planned to replace the 1959 law with arbitrary interpretations of Sharia, or religious law. In January 2004, MADRE warned that, “If upheld, Resolution 137 could give self-appointed religious clerics the authority to deny women the rights to education, employment, freedom of movement and travel, inheritance, and custody of their children. Forced early marriage, polygamy, compulsory religious dress, and wife beating could all be sanctioned under the Resolution.”  Iraqi women took to the streets in protest of Resolution 137. Facing mounting pressure from US Congress members and women’s organizations, including MADRE, Bremer chose not to ratify the resolution.
Yet, despite the Bush Administration’s rhetoric about liberating Iraq, occupation authorities consistently undermined Iraqi women’s efforts to secure their human and legal rights. During the first year of US occupation, Iraqi women’s organizations appealed directly to Bremer, demanding that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that he headed train and dispatch security guards to help prevent violence against women, and that the CPA prosecute crimes against women. These demands were ignored.  Under Bremer, the US refused to honor a series of demands by women’s organizations, including calls to create a women’s ministry; appoint women to the drafting committee of Iraq’s interim constitution; guarantee that 40 percent of US appointees to Iraq’s new government were women; pass laws codifying women’s rights and criminalizing domestic violence; and uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which mandates that women be included at all levels of decision-making in situations of peacemaking and post-war reconstruction.
Indeed, rather than support progressive and democratically minded Iraqis, including members of the women’s movement, the US threw its weight behind Iraq’s Shiite Islamists, calculating that these forces, long suppressed by Saddam Hussein, would cooperate with the occupation and deliver the stability needed for the US to implement its policies in Iraq.
The Battle over Iraq’s Family Law
For Iraq’s Islamists, as for religious fundamentalists in the United States and elsewhere, the subordination of women is a priority of the first magnitude – because it is both a microcosm and a precondition of the social order they wish to establish. For this reason, the very first civil law drafted by the IGC was Resolution 137, addressing women’s rights within the family. Similarly, the first battle in the drafting of Iraq’s constitution was over these same family or personal status laws. As Nathan J. Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, has pointed out, “There is no area of law that more broadly affects the lives of ordinary Iraqis.” 
Those seeking to overturn Iraq’s 1959 family law have tried to discredit the law by associating it with the government of Saddam Hussein. But Iraq’s family law predates the Ba’ath regime: it came into being thanks to mass mobilizations by the Iraqi women’s movement, which took to the streets at the end of the British colonial era demanding equal rights. The religious right in Iraq has reviled the 1959 law for being “secular” and spawning “deviant decisions that tore families apart”  (a reference, perhaps, to women’s rights to divorce and child custody enshrined in the law). In fact, the 1959 law is not secular. Much of it is rooted in Sharia, but the code represents a liberal, as opposed to reactionary, interpretation of Koranic law. The law also helped mediate against sectarianism by synthesizing Shiite and Sunni interpretations of Koranic law into one code that was applied to all citizens regardless of sect. Thus, though the 1959 law utilized Sharia to adjudicate personal and family matters, it did so in a secular manner.
Another less publicized, though perhaps more germane, Islamist grievance is that the 1959 law transferred power from Islamic clerics to the state. Prior to 1959, family law was interpreted by individual religious judges, giving clerics great influence over people’s lives. The 1959 law removed that authority. It limited the role of judges to applying the law and ended clerics’ control of personal status courts by absorbing these courts into a national judicial system under the authority of the state.  The current move to overturn the 1959 law is as much a strategy to reassert the political power of right-wing clerics as it is a battle over the “values” enshrined in the law.
Iraq’s Constitution: Islamists Appeased
Having failed in 2004 to revoke Iraq’s family law through Resolution 137, the Islamists focused on drafting the country’s new constitution in 2005. There, the United States handed the clerics their most important victory to date. Throughout summer 2005, the Bush Administration exerted tremendous pressure on Iraqi politicians to complete a draft of the constitution within three months (though the same process took more than 10 years in the United States). At the time, the Bush Administration was in desperate need of a public relations victory in Iraq: it needed a display for US audiences of the “democratic progress” that had replaced the “threat of weapons of mass destruction” as the raison d’être for attacking Iraq. The Administration was also afraid that failure to meet the timetable for drafting a constitution would trigger new elections in Iraq, which would have likely produced a less compliant government.
In summer 2005, with the clock ticking, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad inserted himself heavily into negotiations over the drafting of the constitution. His intervention was worrying: this was the man who had helped negotiate Afghanistan’s post-Taliban constitution, which – despite all of Bush’s talk about “liberating” Afghan women – proclaims the country to be an Islamic republic in which no law can contradict Islam. As in Afghanistan, Khalilzad supported the Islamist factions on the Iraqi constitutional drafting committee. The result was a new constitution that declared Islam to be the official religion of the state and a fundamental source of legislation.
Muslim feminist scholars point out that the problem is not intrinsic to Islam itself. Islamic jurisprudence, or Sharia, is not a predetermined list of rules, but an intellectual tradition of interpreting religious texts. Islamic holy books can be interpreted to support relatively progressive legislation affecting women’s rights, as in Morocco, where forced marriages for women are banned on the basis of a Koranic verse.  But Sharia can also be used to justify violence against women, as in northern Nigeria, where women may be publicly stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage.  The paramount question, as in every legal system, is how and by whom the law is interpreted and applied.
In the case of Iraq, “…Mr. Khalilzad had backed language that would have given clerics sole authority in settling marriage and family disputes…and allowed clerics to have a hand in interpreting the constitution.”  This news was reported by The New York Times under the innocuous-sounding headline, “Iraqi Talks Move ahead on Some Issues.” In fact, Khalilzad’s “cooperation through cooptation” approach to engaging with Islamists was widely lauded by mainstream media, although the tactic is essentially one of appeasement. In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, it resulted in a constitution that traded women’s rights for cooperation from Islamist political parties.
Legalizing Violence against Women
That women’s rights were deemed expendable by the US is obvious from a quick reading of Iraq’s US brokered constitution. Described by US Vice President Dick Cheney as “progressive and democratic,”  Iraq’s new constitution effectively legalizes multiple forms of violence against women.
Article 2, Section A: “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.”
Problem: This article can be used to negate guarantees of women’s rights enshrined elsewhere in the constitution  and to sanction domestic violence and other human rights violations against women. The phrase “established provisions of Islam” does not necessarily refer to a codified canon of law, but to dominant interpretations of religious texts, which are made dominant through an assertion of political power. In Iraq today, those who have gained a monopoly on interpreting and applying “Islam” may define human rights abuses against women, such as forced marriage or marital rape, as “established provisions” of the religion.
Article 36: Freedom of expression, freedom of press, and freedoms of assembly and peaceful protest are conditioned on “public order and morality.”
Problem: This article can be used to suppress political opposition to a government dominated by Islamists, outlaw social and political dissent, and quash the circulation of competing interpretations of Islam. “Morality” is always a problematic basis for law. When legislators and judges believe it is immoral for women to choose their spouses, control their fertility, or work outside the home, “morality” becomes an arbitrary justification for human rights violations.
Article 39: “Iraqis are free in their adherence to their personal status according to their own religion, sect, belief and choice.”
Problem: The article calls for marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance, and other personal status issues to be adjudicated by religious courts, which consistently discriminate against women. For example, in religious courts, a woman’s legal testimony is worth half that of a man’s. Moreover, women will not be “free in their adherence” to a particular set of laws: in most families, the decision of which court to use will be made by men. Women will be particularly disadvantaged in cases of conflict with male family members, such as divorce. Because most interpretations of Sharia pronounce one set of rights for men and another for women, Article 39 sets the stage for separate and unequal laws to be applied on the basis of sex.
Article 89: “The Supreme Judiciary Council will [nominate] the head and members of the Supreme Federal Court.” And Article 90: “The Supreme Federal Court will be made up of a number of judges and experts in Sharia and law.”
Problem: Nothing in the constitution mandates that the members of the Supreme Judiciary Council be elected. Indeed, they appear to be accountable to no one. Yet, Council members will effectively control the laws by nominating the “experts in Sharia” (presumably clerics) empowered to veto legislation, rescind existing laws (such as the 1959 family law), and determine the constitutionality of new laws governing marriage, divorce, women’s inheritance and property rights, and more. These articles portend an Iranian-style theocratic oversight body, empowered to legalize human rights violations against women.
Part II. Iraq’s Other War: Imposing Theocracy through Gender-based Violence
While the US State Department propelled Islamists and their appeasers to positions of state power in a “liberated Iraq,” the US military allowed Islamist militias to perpetrate a wave of attacks on women throughout the country. As the occupying power, the US was legally obligated under The Hague and Geneva Conventions to provide security to Iraqi civilians, including protection from gender-based violence.  But the military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were quickly imposing on women.
Since the US overthrow of Iraq’s authoritarian and powerfully centralized government, the country has been overrun by networks of criminal gangs, militias, and paramilitary units, including the complex of shadowy groups that comprise the anti-US insurgency. One senior US military official estimated in October 2006 that there were more than 23 militias operating in Baghdad alone. 
In March 2004, on the first anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, MADRE issued a report on the status of Iraqi women’s human rights. Already at that time, women identified a breakdown in security and public order as their number one problem. A sharp rise in abductions, rapes, and sexual slavery made women afraid to leave their homes. It is estimated that more than 400 Iraqi women were abducted and raped within the first four months of US occupation.  Girls were being kept out of school and many women were by then forbidden by their families to be in public without a male escort.
Initially, Iraqi women attributed much of the violence to social disintegration and criminal activity triggered by the overthrow of the Ba’ath regime and protracted armed conflict between US and Iraqi forces. But within a few months of the invasion, women began citing the rise of Islamists as a primary source of violence. By summer 2003, Islamist “misery gangs” were patrolling the streets in many areas, beating and harassing women who were not “properly” dressed or behaved.  According to a woman musician, “If the Islamists see me walking on the street with my flute, they could kill me.”  In a move reminiscent of the Taliban, male doctors were warned not to treat women patients and women doctors were threatened against treating men. Across Iraq, cities were soon plastered with leaflets and graffiti warning women against going out unveiled, driving, wearing make-up, or shaking hands and socializing with men. Islamist “punishment committees” sprang up, manned by the Badr Brigade  of the US-backed SCIRI Party  and its rival, the Mahdi Army.  These “committees” roamed the streets attacking people accused of flouting Islamic law. In Basra, the Mahdi Army ensured that women were virtually confined to their homes. Wearing pants or appearing in public without a headscarf became punishable by death.
Violence against Women as a Strategy for the Creation of a Theocracy
This campaign of gender-based violence was intended to subjugate women as a first step in the creation of an Islamist state. As Mithal Alusi, one of 30 Iraqi legislators who called for the protection of women’s human rights in a 2006 declaration said, “These attempts to intimidate women are attempts to terrorize society.”  In fact, violence against women is a primary weapon in the arsenal of fundamentalists of various religions, who seek to impose their political agenda on society. Often, the first salvo in a war for theocracy is a systematic attack on women and minorities who represent or demand an alternative or competing vision for society. These initial targets are usually the most marginalized and, therefore, most vulnerable members of society, and once they are dealt with, fundamentalist forces then proceed towards less vulnerable targets.
In Iraq, women, Christians, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and intersex
(LGBTTI) Iraqis have been among the Islamists’ first targets of violence. For example, the Mujahadin Shura Group vows to kill any woman seen in public without a headscarf. Mujahadin Shura listed among its reasons for opposing the January 2005 Iraqi elections the need to prevent Iraq from “becoming homosexual.” In the northern city of Mosul, the group has targeted Christian women with a campaign of murder, kidnapping, rape, and sexual enslavement. According to the Union of the Unemployed,  groups such as this use the most violent and inhumane methods to impose their will, targeting “anyone who disagrees with them and does not observe their way of living.” 
The Bush Administration has highlighted violence carried out by groups that, like Mujahadin Shura, are Sunni-based and part of the anti-US insurgency. But comparable violence is perpetrated by Shiite Islamists affiliated with US-backed political parties. For example, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani, the spiritual leader of SCIRI, has ordered all Iraqi women to wear headscarves. His edicts are enforced by beheadings and acid attacks.  In 2006, Sistanti also issued an order for the killing of gays and lesbians, which was publicized for several months on his website (www.sistani.org). Sistani, who advocates violence against Iraqi civilians rather than US occupation forces, is lauded in the US as “moderate”  and “mainstream.” 
On both sides of the sectarian divide, attacks on women are committed in the name of religion. However, their purpose is fundamentally political: armed groups use gender-based violence to assert dominance over one another and over the population at large. As Yanar Mohammed said, “When an Islamist militia wants to take control of a neighborhood, imposing the veil on women is the first point on their agenda. It is their way of claiming power over the area. In Sadr City, you no longer see a single woman without the veil. Since the Americans came, the transformation is complete. It is not that these women have suddenly become more religious. It is because they will be killed if they do not wear the veil…When a political party gains control of an area, it puts its flag everywhere. The flag is a message to your opponents that this is your area and they should not dare to step into it. The veil on women is like a flag now.” 
While Iraqi women in general have been subjected to this reign of terror, certain groups of women have been specifically targeted: political leaders, professionals, academics and students, and those who publicly defend women’s human rights. The overall pattern that emerges is one in which women are attacked and killed because they represent an obstacle to the establishment of a theocracy. As Yanar Mohammed said, “When I think of the women who have been beheaded, kidnapped, and gunned down, they have a lot in common: they are successful, educated, public people who represent a cosmopolitan lifestyle.” 
First They Came for the Women
Women were the first targets of theocratic violence in Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan.
Iran: As in Iraq, Islamists quickly moved to consolidate their power in the legal arena by stripping women of their rights. Following the 1979 “Islamic revolution,” “the new government immediately suspended Iran’s relatively progressive family law, banned women judges, and strongly enforced the wearing of the headscarf. Within a few months, Sharia rulings lowered the marriage age to nine, permitted polygamy, gave fathers the right to decide who their daughters could marry, permitted unilateral divorce for men only, and gave divorced fathers sole custody of their children.” 
Algeria: Starting in the 1970s, Algerian Islamists, like their Iraqi counterparts, “systematically attacked civilians as a method of war, in particular, women who deviated from their prescribed roles.”  Islamist militias imposed their social and political agenda by murdering feminists, professionals, female university students, public intellectuals, and advocates of secular democracy.
Afghanistan: One of the Taliban’s top priorities was the creation of a public sphere devoid of women. Their earliest orders – enforced by beating, imprisoning, and executing offenders – banned women from working outside the home, going to school, and traveling freely. Women were effectively put under house arrest and could only appear in public accompanied by a male guardian and with their faces and bodies concealed.
A Division of Labor
The US-backed Iraqi government has largely reinforced the Islamist call to restrict women’s rights and bar women from the public sphere. For example, in 2005, Khdeir Abbas, the Secretary General of the Iraqi Ministers’ Council, began requiring all women employees to wear headscarves or be fired.  The government also began providing a small benefits package to public sector employees whose husbands die, in order to facilitate widows’ departure from the workforce. Iraqi women’s rights campaigner Hanna Edwar explained that the order reinforces “the interpretation of Sharia that commands a woman to stay at home after the death of her husband and not be in touch with the outside world.”  Then, in 2006, the Iraqi Interior Ministry issued a series of notices warning women not to leave their homes alone and echoing the directives of religious leaders who urge men to prevent women family members from holding jobs. Thus, the violence carried out by militias in the streets is backed up by more respectable political leaders who support the call for a women-free public sphere. As one imam (Muslim religious leader) in a Baghdad mosque commented, “These incidents of abuse just prove what we have been saying for so long. That it is the Islamic duty of women to stay in their homes, looking after their children and husbands rather than searching for work.” 
Iraq’s US-allied political and religious leaders clearly benefit from the reign of terror imposed by their followers, for as long as women are preoccupied with merely surviving, they are unable to demand accountability from the government for the broad range of economic, social, and political rights that they are denied. As Yanar Mohammed commented, “We cannot insist on separation of mosque and state and the drafting of egalitarian legislation now that women are afraid to even leave their homes to discuss such matters.”  In December 2003, when the IGC attempted to repeal Iraq’s family law through Resolution 137, women’s groups took to the streets in vocal, visible protests that were instrumental in galvanizing opposition to the resolution. Today, such demonstrations are far too dangerous to even consider.
US Support for Islamists: Blunder or Blueprint?
The transformation of Iraq into an Islamist state is often characterized as one of numerous “unintended consequences” of US decision-making since 2003. But the US has long viewed the religious right as a strategic ally in the Middle East. During the Cold War, US funding, behind-the scenes diplomacy, and military interventions helped strengthen Islamists in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab Gulf, Iran, and other countries. In the 1960s and 1970s, the US undertook its largest covert operation ever by arming, training, and funding Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan to combat its main economic rival, the Soviet Union. That alliance spawned civil war in Afghanistan, gave rise to the Taliban, and positioned Osama bin Laden to build al-Qaeda.
Since the end of World War II, US policy in the Middle East has been guided by an effort to control the region’s energy resources. This economic interest has trumped ideological concerns about “freedom” or “democracy” (though US actions are always presented in these lofty terms at home). On the ground, the US cultivated Islamists as an alternative to the rule of socialists or Arab nationalists (like Saddam Hussein), who were less amenable to US control over their countries’ reserves of oil and natural gas. Despite the myth of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and “the West,” the US has been very comfortable with reactionary, theocratic leaders in the Middle East. As we can see in the cases of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, these men have made great business partners.
Part III. The Rise of US-backed Death Squads
From Cakewalk  to Quagmire
Perhaps the best-armed and most powerful perpetrators of gender-based violence in Iraq are those militias that have been trained, funded, and armed by the United States. The US began using Iraqi militias to enforce its occupation during the first weeks of the invasion.  On April 8, 2003, under the headline “US-backed Militia Terrorizes Town,” The Financial Times reported that the Iraqi Coalition of National Unity, led by Shiite cleric Hassan Mussawi, was looting homes, beating residents, and stealing cars in the city of Najaf, where they were carrying out arrests on behalf of US forces.  Within months, Islamist militias had mushroomed across Iraq. Women’s organizations publicized the growing number of gender-based attacks committed by these forces.
At home, Bush Administration officials reminded US audiences of the “mission” of liberating Iraqis, especially women. But on the ground in Iraq, the Islamist militias were wholly tolerated. According to US Major General Martin Dempsey, commander of the First Armored Division in Iraq, “[The militias] have recognized that they can operate freely so long as they do not challenge us.”  In fact, the US military enabled the militias and their growing attacks on women. As the “cakewalk” envisioned by US war planners quickly devolved into the quagmire that has become the Iraq War, the US began to actively cultivate Shiite militias to help battle the Sunni-led insurgency and enforce the US occupation.
In January 2005, Newsweek reported on a Pentagon plan to dispatch US “Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers.”  The next month, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld promised that these groups were “going to have the greatest leverage on suppressing and eliminating the insurgency.”  In June 2005 – at a moment when Shiite militias’ systematic torture of women was an established fact of life in Iraq – former Marine officer and counterinsurgency expert Thomas X. Hammes described “a marriage of convenience” between the US and the militias, stating that, “Our policy is to equip those who are the most effective fighters.” 
The two largest militias that the US has supported are the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army. Like SCIRI’s Badr Brigade, the Mahdi Army belongs to a political formation that won 30 parliamentary seats and control over several government ministries after the December 2005 elections. It is the armed force of Moqtada al-Sadr, commonly described as an “anti-American cleric,” whose men twice battled US troops in 2004. But in 2005, the US struck a deal with al-Sadr in order to mobilize the Mahdi Army against a common enemy – the Sunni-led insurgency.  By 2007, the US was once again confronting the Mahdi Army (through Bush’s so-called troop “surge”), but the policy change does not negate the Pentagon’s earlier support for the militia. As al-Sadr said, “Yesterday’s friends are today’s enemies.” 
For the US, the devil’s bargain of backing Shiite against Sunni militias was risky. In fact, within a year of the Pentagon plan to train the Badr Brigade, the militia – with its obvious ties to the US-backed government – caused a public relations crisis for the White House when the group was implicated in widespread sectarian killings. As for the Mahdi Army, Pentagon planners surely considered the possibility of a future confrontation with the militia. Those risks were assumed because the official Iraqi army – on which Bush had staked his exit strategy from Iraq – was unable and unwilling to fight the insurgency. Moreover, the militias offered an enticing advantage over government troops. For a time, their quasi-official status allowed the US to out-source the violence of its counterinsurgency operations without having to answer for the militias’ gross human rights violations, including their campaign of terror against the women of Iraq.
The Salvador Option: Death Squads as US Policy
Iraq is not the first war in which the Pentagon has relied on militias that commit gross human rights violations against civilians. Indeed, the plan to support what are now known as the Iraqi death squads is called the “Salvador Option,” named for the policy used in Central America in the 1980s. Both the Badr and Mahdi forces were trained by the US military under the command of Colonel James Steele during John Negroponte’s stint as US Ambassador to Iraq. Steele and Negroponte worked together in Central America in the 1980s. Steele was commander of the US military advisory group to the government of El Salvador, which used death squads to commit gross human rights violations against the civilian population.  Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras, where he oversaw the creation of death squads that tortured and killed thousands of suspected “leftists.” 
Refusing to Connect the Dots
By early 2005, two facts were clearly established. First, the US was arming and training Islamist militias in Iraq. Second, these same militias were using gender-based violence to impose a theocracy. Yet, almost nowhere in the media were these facts examined in relation to each other. Indeed, after initially reporting on the “Salvador Option,” most mainstream media sources failed to cover the consequences of US military support for the militias, even as The New York Times and other outlets cited Badr fighters armed with US-issued weapons, driving US-issued trucks, and operating freely during US-imposed curfews.  Meanwhile, articles such as “Iran Gaining Influence, Power in Iraq through Militias”  emphasized the Badr Brigade’s extensive ties to Iran, while ignoring the fact that Iraq’s largest militia – the Mahdi Army – is vehemently anti-Iranian.
Mainstream media often report that the Badr and Mahdi militias have “infiltrated” Iraq’s Ministry of Interior,  which controls the country’s police, intelligence, and paramilitary units. More accurately, Iraq’s Islamist government, boosted to power by the US, placed the ministry in the hands of its militias. In April 2005, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaffari appointed Bayan Jabr, a high-ranking Badr Brigade officer as Interior Minister.  Since then, the Badr Brigade has been headquartered in the ministry. The Mahdi Army, meanwhile, controls the police forces of Baghdad and Basra, Iraq’s two largest cities.  Press reports frequently cite killings by “men in police uniforms,” resisting the foregone conclusion that gunmen are wearing uniforms because they are indeed police officers – trained, armed, and funded by the United States. As one senior Iraqi minister told the British newspaper, The Independent, “of course they wear police uniforms. They are real policemen.” 
In November 2005, the Badr Brigade was widely labeled a death squad when its operatives were discovered imprisoning and torturing Sunni men in a secret prison. Although this same group had been torturing and killing Iraqi women for more than a year, these gender-based attacks were generally not identified as part of the pattern of politically-motivated violence that was then coming to light. To cite just one example, in October 2005, journalist Robert Dreyfuss, known for his authoritative and critical analysis of Iraqi politics, reported that in addition to targeting Sunnis, the Shiite Badr Brigade was “terrorizing Iraq’s secular, urban Shiite population.”  Although gender-based violence was a central tactic of this terror campaign, Dreyfuss does not mention it. Nor does he explore why a supposedly sectarian militia was terrorizing members of its own sect. Like most media accounts, Dreyfuss’ report fails to consider the Badr militia from the perspective of Shiite women. From women’s vantage point, the militia is typical of theocratic fundamentalists everywhere. For such groups, asserting control over members of their own religion – especially women, who are seen as the carriers of group identity – is a prerequisite to extending control over society at large, including, ultimately, the institutions of the state.
From Violence to Feminicide
Like the press, much of the anti-war movement has failed to assess the gendered dimension of the violence gripping Iraq. For example, Iraqi artists, musicians, academics, and teachers have all been targeted by Islamists in a manner reminiscent of Pol Pot’s Cambodia and for the same reason: they represent a potential challenge to the killers’ vision of society. In response to these attacks, a series of international campaigns have been launched to protect people in these sectors. With the exception of the advocacy work of gay men, who are also attacked on the basis of gender, these campaigns have not recognized that women are specifically targeted in attacks against artists and intellectuals. Yet, as Yanar Mohammed said, “We have been studying these killings since they began. It is not that the Islamists also kill women journalists, performers, or intellectuals – women are especially hunted. That’s because they commit a double offense – by advocating a secular society and by being accomplished, working women.” 
Here, the issue of disaggregated data is critical. For without comprehensive knowledge of who is being targeted, it is difficult to analyze the crisis or protect people. But rather than facilitate the collection of data, US authorities have repeatedly ordered the Iraqi Health Ministry to stop publishing statistics about whom or even how many Iraqis are being killed.  When figures have been released, Iraqi women’s organizations have cautioned that the actual number of women who are harassed, assaulted, abducted, raped, and killed by Islamist militias is much higher than statistics show, since most crimes against women are not reported because of stigma, fear of retaliation, or lack of confidence in the police.
These concerns, together with the failure to collect data, place violence against Iraqi women squarely within the paradigm of “feminicide,” a term usually reserved for the wide-spread killing of women in Guatemala and Mexico since the early 1990s. Feminicide is the sum total of various forms of gender-based violence against women, characterized by impunity for perpetrators and a lack of justice processes for victims. Feminicide occurs in conditions of social upheaval, armed conflict, violence between powerful rival criminal gangs and militias, rapid economic transformation, and the demise of traditional forms of state power.  All of these conditions apply to Iraq.
The framework of feminicide also emphasizes the complicity of local or state authorities in violence against women. Iraqi women’s organizations report clear links between the Islamist militias who control and work in the police force and criminal gangs involved in forced prostitution and trafficking of women. For example, Maha (who chose to withhold her last name) was abducted from her home in Najaf and trafficked from brothel to brothel in Baghdad for nearly two years. She managed to escape twice and flee to the police station in Baghdad’s Amiriyah neighborhood. Both times the police forcibly returned her to the brothel. 
US authorities bear responsibility for the crimes of the Iraqi police force they have created and for failing to provide police recruits with even rudimentary training regarding women’s human rights. In fact, the company that the Bush Administration contracted to train Iraq’s new police force, DynCorp, has its own record of perpetrating violence against women. DynCorp was hired by the federal government in the 1990s to train police in the Balkans. Company employees were found to have systematically committed sex crimes against women, including “owning” young women as slaves. One DynCorp site supervisor videotaped himself raping two women. Despite evidence, the contractors never faced criminal charges. 
Part IV. Violence against Women within Families
“It is not a democracy and an open society where a man can talk about politics without anyone threatening him. Democracy is when a woman can talk about her lover without being killed.”
— Saud M. El Sabah 
One form of gender-based violence that has increased dramatically in Iraq since the US invasion is “honor killing.”  These murders are usually perpetrated by male relatives acting to restore “family honor” tarnished by women’s “immoral” behavior. “Honor killings” resemble so-called “crimes of passion” in US, European, and Latin American jurisprudence in that sentencing is not based on the crime, but on the feelings of the perpetrator. For example, in 1999, a Texas judge sentenced a man to four months in prison for murdering his wife and wounding her lover in front of their 10-year-old child.  As in an “honor killing,” adultery was viewed as a mitigating factor in the case. But while individualistic societies, such as the US, tend to locate honor in the individual, communities that suffer “honor killings” vest honor in the family, tribe, or clan. “Honor killings” are therefore often reluctantly condoned as necessary for the greater good of the community – sometimes even by those who are grief-stricken by the woman’s death. In the ethical and legal framework that condones “honor killings” there is an inversion of the relationship between perpetrator and victim as understood in most formal legal systems, including international human rights law. The woman who is killed (along with anyone who tries to defend her) is considered the guilty party because she has tarnished the honor of her family. In contrast, her killer, who is the dishonored party, is seen as the victim.
Islamists claim that “honor killing” is a religious obligation. However, these crimes are not condoned by either the Koran or the Hadith (the sayings and doings of Mohammed). Rather, they are rooted in customary law that pre-dates Islam and Christianity. The notion of family honor has been maintained and deployed by Islamists because it embodies their social vision. “Honor killings” punish women who make autonomous decisions about issues such as marriage, divorce, and whether and with whom to have sex, and force men to conform to gender norms of heterosexuality and marriage. For example, in 2005, the Badr militia began a program of surveillance of unmarried men over the age of 30, threatening the men with violence if they did not get married. Furthermore, because entire communities are called to enforce the ethic of family honor, the framework provides a powerful means of social control over potential victims and perpetrators alike – in other words, over everyone. For example, the Badr militia has ordered male relatives of gay Iraqis to murder their gay family member in the name of honor – or face murder themselves. 
Honor under Occupation
While “honor killing” may be committed within the “private sphere” of the family, its increase under US occupation demonstrates that – like other human rights violations – the prevalence of “honor killing” is influenced by broader social forces and institutions in the public sphere. In Iraq, the rise in “honor killing” under US occupation has multiple causes, including some which stem directly from US policy:
• The US has empowered Islamist political parties whose clerics promote “honor killing” as a religious duty.  As Yanar Mohammed explained, “Once the religious parties came to power, Iraqi men began hearing in the mosques that it was their duty to protect the honor of their families by any means. It is understood that this entails killing women who break the rules.” 
• The US destroyed the Iraqi state, including much of the judicial system, leaving people more reliant on conservative tribal authorities to settle disputes and on unofficial “religious courts” to mete out sentencing, including “honor killings.”
• Poverty-inducing economic policies, such as the 2003 US decision to fire all public-sector workers (40 percent of whom were women), have also contributed to the rise in “honor killings.” Increased poverty has made people more dependent on tribal structures for jobs, housing, and other scarce resources and compelled more women into polygamous, forced, and abusive marriages, where they are at greater risk of “honor killing.”
• While the US saw fit to violate international law by overturning most of Iraq’s legal system, it maintained Article 130 of the penal code, which provides vastly reduced sentences for “honor killings” (as little as six months as opposed to life imprisonment, which is the minimum sentence for murder). 
• Although the US is obligated as the occupying power to protect Iraqis’ human rights, including the prevention and prosecution of “honor killing,” it has not done so. Official negligence promotes “honor killing” because perpetrators are confident that they will not be prosecuted.
• Women who are attacked by men outside of their family are considered to have shamed their families. For that reason, the overall rise in rape and kidnapping under US occupation has elicited a rash of “honor killings.” In October 2004, Iraq’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs revealed that more than half of the 400 reported rapes since the US invasion resulted in the murder of rape survivors by their families.
• The detention of women by US and Iraqi forces exposes women to the threat of “honor killing” once they are released. Extensive documentation of the sexualized torture of detainees by US forces in Iraq confirms the widely-held assumption that any woman who is arrested is also raped, which may be considered grounds for “honor killing.”
The Culture Card: Religion as an Excuse for Violence against Women
Despite the many ways that US policies have contributed to the increase in “honor killing” in Iraq, most people in the US continue to view these crimes as an invariable part of Iraqi, Arab, or Muslim “culture.” For instance, US journalist Kaye Hymowitz defines “honor killing” as part of the “inventory of brutality” committed by men against women in the “Muslim world,” railing against “the savage fundamentalist Muslim oppression of women.” 
Hymowitz echoes a commonly held assumption, namely that gender-based violence in the Middle East derives from Islam. Identifying Islam or “Muslim culture” as the source of violence against women serves to dehumanize Muslims and justify US violence against them. It also deflects attention from factors (such as politics, economics, and militarism) that influence the prevalence of gender-based violence, and obscures the ways that US actions have exacerbated conditions that give rise to violence against women.
In fact, culture alone explains very little. Like all human behavior, “honor killing” does have a cultural dimension, but like culture itself, “honor killing” is shaped by social factors (such as poverty) and discourses (such as women’s rights) that change – and can be changed – in ways that can either help combat or promote “honor killing.” Culture is a context, but not a cause or a useful explanation for violence, whether in Iraq or anywhere else.
It makes much more sense to examine gender – a system of power relations whose number one enforcement mechanism is recourse to violence against women. There is nothing “Muslim” about that system, except that its Muslim proponents, like their Jewish, Christian, and Hindu counterparts, use religion to rationalize women’s subjugation. In fact, shifting the focus from culture to gender reveals a system of power that is nearly universal. A 2005 Amnesty International Report on the mass killings of women in Guatemala could easily refer to Iraq when it describes a “notable sense of insecurity that women in Guatemala feel today as a result of the violence and the murders in particular. The resulting effect of intimidation carries with it a perverse message: women should abandon the public space they have won at much personal and social effort and shut themselves back up in the private world, abandoning their essential role in national development.”  This passage captures the intent of Iraq’s Islamists, who have little in common with the perpetrators of feminicide in Guatemala, other than a rigid adherence to a gendered system of power.
1. Interview with Yanar Mohammed, April 25, 2006.
2. International Women’s Human Rights Law Clinic and Women Living Under Muslim Laws, ‘Shadow Report on Algeria to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women’, Jan. 1999.
3. Nir Rosen, ‘Anatomy of a Civil War’, Boston Review, Nov./Dec, 2006.
4. The Washington Post, July 11, 2003, quoted in Thomas Lee, Battlebabble: Selling War in America (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2005); the same article elucidates the purpose of the IGC: “…a more prominent role in postwar governance is intended to place Iraqis at the receiving end of some of the popular discontent that has been directed at the occupation administration.”
5. Bremer’s Islamist appointees include: Dr. Ebrahim Jafari Al Eshaiker (Dawa Party); Abdul Aziz al-Hakim (SCIRI); Abdul Karim Al Muhammadawi (Iraqi Party of God in Al Amara); Dr. Mohsen Abdul Hameed (Iraqi Islamic Party); and Dr. Seyyid Muhammed Bahr ul-Uloom.
http://iraqcoalition.org (accessed Dec. 15, 2006)
6. Huibin Amee Chew, ‘Occupation is Not (Women’s) Liberation Part I’, ZNet, March 24, 2005.
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7518 (accessed Dec. 13, 2006)
7. Noga Efrati, ‘Negotiating Rights in Iraq: Women and the Personal Status Law’, Middle East Journal, 59 (4), 577-595.
8. MADRE press release, Jan. 30, 2004.
http://www.madre.org/press/pr/resolution137.html (accessed Feb. 21, 2007)
9. Yanar Mohammed, ‘Iraq: Letter to Paul Bremer from Yanar Mohammed Concerning the Security of Iraqi Women’, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Sep. 3, 2003.
http://www.cpt.org/archives/2003/sep03/0001.html (accessed Dec. 13, 2006)
10. Nathan Brown, ‘Debating Islam in Post-Baathist Iraq’, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Outlook, March, 2005.
11. Brown, ‘Debating Islam’.
12. Brown, ‘Debating Islam’.
13. ‘Morocco Boosts Women’s Rights’, BBC News, Oct. 11, 2003.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/africa/3183248.stm (accessed Jan. 29, 2007)
14. Imama Ayesha, ‘Working within Nigeria’s Sharia Courts’, Human Rights Dialogue, 10 (2), Fall 2003.
15. Dexter Filkins, ‘Iraqi Talks Move ahead on Some Issues’, The New York Times, Aug. 21, 2005.
16. Dick Cheney, ‘Vice President’s Remarks at a Luncheon for Arizona Victory 2006′, Aug. 15, 2006.
www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060815-2.html (accessed Jan. 29, 2007)
17. For example, Article 14 states: “Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, origin, color, religion, creed, belief or opinion, or economic and social status.”
18. Article 43 of the Hague Convention obligates the occupying power to restore and maintain public order and safety. Articles 29 and 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention obligate occupation authorities to respect the fundamental human rights of the inhabitants of the occupied territory.
19. Sabrina Tavernise, ‘As Trust Vanishes, Many Iraqis Look to Gunmen as Protectors’, The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2006.
20. Agence France-Presse, ‘More than 400 Iraqi Women Kidnapped, Raped in Post-war Chaos’, Aug. 24, 2003.
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/AllDocsByUNID/c21efb4c4e3dda7e49256d8d0010bacb (accessed Dec. 13, 2006).
21. Sarah El Deeb, ‘Iraqi Women Deal With Mixed Legacy’, The Los Angeles Times, Jan. 26, 2004.
22. Kim Ghattas, ‘Iraqi Women Struggle to be Heard’, BBC News, Aug. 18, 2003.
23. The Badr Brigade changed its name to the Badr Organization of Reconstruction and Development in 2003, although they are still commonly referred to as the Badr Bridgade, or the Badr Corps.
24. Stephen Zunes, ‘The U.S. Role in Iraq’s Sectarian Violence’, Foreign Policy in Focus, March 6, 2006.
http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/3139 (accessed Dec. 14, 2006)
25. Sabrina Tavernise, ‘As Trust Vanishes, Many Iraqis Look to Gunmen as Protectors’, The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2006.
26. ‘Iraq: Women Want Rights Pledge Honored’, The Miami Herald, Aug. 4, 2006.
27. On May 1, 2003, a group of labor activists founded the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq. The union has a membership of 150,000 people and has offices in Baghdad, Nasiriyah, and Kirkuk.
28. Mark Osborn, ‘Iraqi Union Leader Murdered: “Resistance” Targets Trade Unions, Women, Lesbians and Gay Men’, Workers’ Liberty, Jan. 12, 2005.
29. Houzan Mahmoud, ‘Iraq Must Reject a Constitution that Enslaves Women’, The Independent, Aug. 15, 2005.
http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article305879.ece (accessed Dec. 13, 2006)
30. Isobel Coleman, ‘Women, Islam, and the New Iraq’, Foreign Affairs, Jan./Feb., 2006, 24-38.
31. David Brooks, ‘Drafting Hitler’, The New York Times, Feb. 9, 2006.
32. Interview with Yanar Mohammed.
33. Interview with Yanar Mohammed.
34. Coleman, ‘Women, Islam’
35. International Women’s Human Rights Law Clinic and Women Living Under Muslim Laws, ‘Shadow Report’, 9.
36. Monitoring of Human Rights in Iraq Network, ‘Second Periodic Report of Monitoring of Human Rights in Iraq’, Nov. 20, 2005.
37. Hanna Edwar, ‘Latest Update from the Iraqi Women’s Network’, Women’s Human Rights Net, July 21, 2005.
http://www.whrnet.org/fundamentalisms/docs/action-iraq-sitin-0507.html (accessed Jan. 29, 2007)
38. Ruth Rosen, ‘The Hidden War on Women in Iraq’, Global Policy Forum, July 13, 2006.
39. Interview with Yanar Mohammed.
40. Ken Adelman, ‘Cakewalk in Iraq’, The Washington Post, Feb. 13 2002.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A1996-2002Feb12?language=printer (accessed Jan. 29, 2007)
41. In fact, armed militias such as the Kurdish Pesh Merga and the Shia Badr Brigade were founded decades ago. Yet, the US military had no known plans for integrating militia members into a new and rehabilitated Iraqi security force. Instead, the US disbanded the Iraqi military (Coalition Provisional Authority Order 2, issued on May 23, 2003) without providing employment for its 400,000 officers and troops. By doing so, the US swelled the ranks of both militias and criminal gangs and deprived Iraq of a basic precondition for a functioning state: a monopoly on the use of force.
42. Charles Clover, ‘US-backed Militia Terrorizes Town’, The Financial Times, April 8, 2003.
43. Hilzoy, ‘Iraq: Women’s Rights’, Obsidian Wings, Aug. 21, 2005.
http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/08/iraq_womens_rig.html (accessed Jan. 30, 2007)
44. Michael Hirsch and John Barry, ‘The Salvador Option: Death Squads in Iraq?’, Newsweek, Jan. 13, 2005.
45. Kim Sengupta, ‘Iraq’s Dirty War of Wolves in Police Clothing’, The New Zealand Herald, Nov. 21, 2005.
46. Lionel Beehner, ‘Backgrounder: Iraq: Militia Groups’, Council on Foreign Relations, June 9, 2005.
http://www.cfr.org/publication/8175/ (accessed Jan. 29, 2007)
47. A.K. Gupta, ‘Unravelling Iraq’s Secret Militias’, Z Magazine Online, May 2005.
http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Images/gupta0505.html (accessed Dec. 13, 2006)
48. A.K. Gupta, ‘Understanding Bush’s “Surge” Strategy for 2007: A Second Civil War or Genocide’, Indybay, Jan. 15, 2007.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/01/15/18347261.php (accessed Feb. 5, 2007)
49. United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador, ‘From Madness to Hope: The 12-Year War in El Salvador’, Aug. 1, 1993.
http://www.usip.org/library/tc/doc/reports/el_salvador/tc_es_03151993_toc.html (accessed Feb. 5, 2007)
50. Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, ‘Government Death Squads Ravaging Baghdad’, Inter Press Service News Agency, Oct. 19, 2006.
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35167 (accessed Dec. 13, 2006)
51. See, for example: ‘In Shadows, Armed Groups Propel Iraq Toward Chaos’, The New York Times, May 24, 2006; and ‘How Iraq Police Reform Became Casualty of War’, The New York Times, May 22, 2006.
52. Tom Lasseter, ‘Iran Gaining Influence, Power in Iraq through Militias’, The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2005.
53. Solomon Moore, ‘The Conflict in Iraq: Killings by Shiite Muslims Detailed’, The Los Angeles Times, Sep. 28, 2006.
54. Jabr was named finance minister in May 2006 under Nuri al-Maliki.
55. Edward Wong, ‘Shiite Cleric Wields Violence and Popularity to Increase Power in Iraq’, The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2005.
56. Patrick Cockburn, ‘New Terror that Stalks Iraq’s Republic of Fear’, The Independent, Sep. 22, 2006.
57. Robert Dreyfuss, ‘Death Squads and Diplomacy’, TomPaine.common sense, Oct. 5, 2005.
http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2005/10/05/death_squads_and_diplomacy.php (accessed Dec. 14 2006)
58. Interview with Yanar Mohammed.
59. Associated Press, ‘Official: 150,000 Iraqis Killed by Insurgents. Basis of Iraqi Health Minister’s Estimate Since March 2003 is Unclear’, Nov. 10, 2006.
60. Kent Paterson, ‘Feminicide on the Rise in Latin America’, Global Politician, March 10, 2006.
http://globalpolitician.com/articles.asp?ID=1654 (accessed Dec. 5, 2006)
61. Interview with Yanar Mohammed.
62. Susan J. Brinson, ‘Torture or “Good Old American Pornography”?’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50 (39), June 4, 2004, B10-B11.
63. Quoted in Azam Kamguian, ‘The Lethal Combination of Tribalism, Islam, & Cultural Relativism’, Jan. 17-19, 2003.
http://www.middleastwomen.org/html/combination.htm (accessed Jan. 29, 2007)
64. Like “crime of passion,” the term “honor killing” communicates the perspective of the perpetrator, and thereby carries an implicit justification. Some women’s rights advocates therefore prefer the terms “feminicide,” “shame killings,” or “so-called honor killings.”
65. See paragraph 35 of Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective Special of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/49, Jan. 31, 2002, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2002/83.
66. Jennifer Copestake, ‘Gays Flee Iraq as Shia Death Squads Find a New Target’, The Observer, June 8, 2006.
67. For reference to Sistani’s fatwa, see: Doug Ireland, ‘Shia Death Squads Target Gay Iraqis’, Gay City News, March 23-29, 2006.
http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_511/iraq.html (accessed Dec. 11, 2006)
68. Interview with Yanar Mohammed.
69. American Bar Association Iraq Legal Development Project, ‘The Status of Women in Iraq: An Assessment of Iraq’s De Jure and De Facto Compliance with International Legal Standards’, July, 2005.
70. Kay S. Hymowitz, ‘Why Feminism is AWOL on Islam’, City Journal, Winter 2003.
http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_1_why_feminism.html (accessed Dec. 11, 2006)
71. Amnesty International, ‘No Protection, No Justice: Killings of Women in Guatemala’, June 9, 2005.
http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGAMR340172005 (accessed Jan. 29, 2007)
Yifat Susskind, Associate Director of MADRE, was born and raised in Israel, and was active in the Israeli women's peace movement for several years. She has been featured as a commentator on CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio. Ms. Susskind has written for the Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP) and has been profiled in Ms. Magazine and the New York Daily News.