Monday, August 29, 2005

How the new Iraqi constitution just flushed women's rights down the toilet.

The new final draft of the Iraqi constitution was completed, leading President Bush to respond thusly :

"Iraq's main ethnic and religious groups made the courageous choice to join the political process. And together, they have worked toward a democratic constitution that respects the traditions of their country and guarantees the rights of all their citizens."

Let us leave aside, for the sake of this argument, the fact that none of the Sunni assembly lawmakers have come out in support of this constitution and that the fact that Sunnis won't support it basically assigns this constitution the same status as a wad of used toilet paper. And let us also, for the purpose of maintaining focus on the subject of our discussion, gloss over the fact that President Bush himself, somewhat intelligently, gauging the worthlessness of the document and it's ratification, and realizing that a Sunni backlash is on the horizon, has warned Americans that :

"As democracy in Iraq takes root, the enemies of freedom, the terrorists, will become more desperate, more despicable, and more vicious."

No, fuck all that. Bad as all that may seem, that is not within the scope of this discussion. Right now, all we are concerned with is this one article (via Rude Pundit) within the Constitution. Article 17, Part 1 states :

"Each person has the right to personal privacy as long as it does not violate the rights of others or general morality."

This is what it means in layman's terms : You are free to engage in personal private acts, as long as the rest of society feels that those acts are not not morally reprehensible. You see what they did right there? They set up a facade of freedom and liberty, but left a giant gaping loophole in it, which would allow the government, or even ordinary members of society to mangle it beyond recognition. But what does the word morality mean? In most civilizations that pride themselves on their high standards of morality, it usually means just one thing, namely, they pride themselves on being sexually repressive.

Historically, time and time again, when societies have followed a policy of sexual repression, the first casualties usually have been the women in those societies. Because, these societies do not look upon women as productive individual citizens, but as temptresses and purveyors of sin. The moment laws that bind societal behavior are based upon a loose definition of morality, then it pretty much means everyone in that society is allowed to have his or her own definition of morality. Usually, it's his.

And once that happens, it is a legal free-for-all. You don't like to see bare female ankles? Heck, call it immoral and publicly stone anyone who dares defy your personal edict. Your wife left you for another? Call her immoral and justify her murder by naming it divine justice. A constitutional loophole such as this is nothing but a recipe for obliterating whatever rights Iraqi women had possessed till now, transforming them into gender slaves like in the rest of the Islamic world. And in this respect, this statement of George Bush made on August 23 now seems even more ironic.

"The fact that Iraq will have a democratic constitution that honors women's rights, the rights of minorities, is going to be an important change in the broader Middle East."

Less than a week after that statement, minority Sunnis have rejected the constitution and women are in danger of losing their status as equal citizens.

Lets give the last word to an anti-Saddam female Iraqi activist, who previously had celebrated the Iraqi election with the now famous purple finger, was invited to sit with the first lady, Laura Bush, and listen to the President's state of the union address, where he claimed that success was being achieved in Iraq. This is what she has to say now :

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment."

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