All Things Considered, January 29, 2008 · Most everyone in Iraq has suffered because of violence, but the lives of women have been, perhaps, affected the most.
Their right to go where and do what they wish has been dramatically restricted by the rise of Islamist parties and extremist groups.
Women's rights groups report that in the past six months, more than 100 women have been killed in the city of Basra for wearing make-up or what is deemed Western clothing. Those who dare to defend them have also been attacked and, in some cases, killed.
It's important to note that woman's rights were more respected under the rule of Saddam Hussein:
Iraq women's rights better under Saddam: survey David Shucosky at 12:02 PM ET Thursday, April 13, 2006
[JURIST] Women in Iraq had better quality of life and received more respect for their rights under Saddam Hussein's regime than the current system, according to a survey conducted by the Baghdad-based Woman Freedom Organization [advocacy website]. According to the group, women's rights were guaranteed in the constitution under Saddam, and women held important government positions. Now, however, security concerns have forced many women to remain at home, and the Islamic law making up the foundations of the new constitution [JURIST news archive] has been applied so as to suppress women [advocacy op-ed], the group complains. Officials within the government disagree, claiming that women can more readily express their political views and now hold positions in government that had been denied them under Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive].
The survey also noted an increase in unemployment and poverty levels for women. The number of widows has gone up as well, compounding a problem that has existed since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. IRIN has more.
Sentenced to death: Afghan who dared to read about women's rights By Kim Sengupta
A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country's rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after "liberation" and under the democratic rule of the West's ally Hamid Karzai.
The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.
Mr Kambaksh, 23, distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. But a complaint was made against him and he was arrested, tried by religious judges without – say his friends and family – being allowed legal representation and sentenced to death.
The Independent is launching a campaign today to secure justice for Mr Kambaksh. The UN, human rights groups, journalists' organisations and Western diplomats have urged Mr Karzai's government to intervene and free him. But the Afghan Senate passed a motion yesterday confirming the death sentence.
You can at least do a little about this by signing The Independant's Petition:
How you can save Pervez
Sayed Pervez Kambaksh's imminent execution is an affront to civilised values. It is not, however, a foregone conclusion. If enough international pressure is brought to bear on President Karzai's government, his sentence may yet be overturned. Add your weight to the campaign by urging the Foreign Office to demand that his life be spared. Sign our e-petition at www.independent.co.uk/petition
It'll take you all of 3 seconds, and it may not do much, but what is it going to cost you?
So Sign the Petition.
Spreading freedom and democracy, right?
Is that something like spreading peanut butter and jelly?
(Hat'tip to david seth michaels)