Women in Iraq
The Bush administration regularly claim that women in Iraq are “more free” since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. This claim is, not surprisingly, completely false. Life for women in Iraq has become less safe and more violent during the occupation. The current lack of security has forced many women out of public life and constitutes a major obstacle to the advancement of their rights. Since the occupation began, armed groups have targeted and killed several female political leaders and women’s rights activists. Two new reports detail the plight of Iraqi women: Amnesty International’s “Decades of suffering – Now women deserve better” and Women to Women International’s “Windows of Opportunity: The Pursuit of Gender Equality in Post-War Iraq.” Both conclude that Iraqi women must play a key role in shaping the future of their country, and Iraqi authorities must take effective measures to protect women and to change discriminatory legislation that encourages violence against them.
Violence Continues in Iraq
Despite the January elections and were supposed to represent a “turning point”, violence continues in Iraq unabated. In one of the most deadly attacks yet seen in Iraq, insurgents killed 122 Iraqis with a car bomb. The bombing was in Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad, and targeted a crowd of several hundred recruits who were waiting for required checkups at a medical. The victims also included men, women and children who were shopping for food and walking. The blast left at least 170 people wounded, according to the Interior Ministry. This attack was the most deadly example of the Iraqi insurgents strategy of targeting the recruiting efforts of the Iraqi Army and Police.
Recent attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq has pushed the number of U.S. deaths in Iraq to over 1,500 according to an Associated Press count. Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,362 U.S. military members have died, according to the AP count. That includes at least 1,030 deaths resulting from hostile action, the military said.
Marine Corps Misses Recruiting Quota
For the second month in a row, the U.S. Marine Corps fell short of their monthly goal for new recruits signing enlistment contracts. These last two months are the first time the Marines have failed to meet their recruitment requirements in over a decade.
This has prompted the armed services to increase their recruitment efforts, particularly among Black and Latino teenagers. In at least one instance, this has led to young people organizing against military recruiters in their schools.
Grand Rapids Native Reporting from Iraq
Grand Rapids native David Enders is back in Iraq, working as a freelance journalist. In 2003, Enders spent thirteen months in post-invasion Iraq, co-founding the Baghdad Bulletin, the first English language newspaper in post war Iraq. The 24-year old journalist has been back in Iraq for approximately a month now and has had several articles recently in The Nation, Mother Jones and Counter Punch. In April his first book, entitled Baghdad Bulletin, will be coming out on University of Michigan Press. David Enders maintains a blog called “Baghdad to Brooklyn, Ann Arbor to Beirut.
38 Vermont Towns Vote Against Iraq War
A non-binding resolution against the war in Iraq was considered by approximately 50 town meetings in Vermont, with 38 of the towns adopting the resolution. The people of Vermont have lost more soldiers per capita than any state, and have the second highest mobilization rate for its National Guard and reservists. This resolution effort has been spearheaded by Ben Scotch, the former head of Vermont’s ACLU. Said Scotch in response to why he started this effort; “A change as basic as this has to start from the grassroots.”