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Where the Iraqi Women At?

It would be refreshing to hear how McCain and Obama plan on implementing their views on women's rights in perhaps the most high profile, high stakes arena where our country is currently involved: Iraq.

Never mind for a moment the criminal deception and blundering at the inception of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, the prospect for peace and freedom in Iraq relies most heavily on a power sharing agreement between the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. All three groups must be respected and represented and negotiated with or blood will continue to spill. But what about the fourth group we seem to hear so little about? That group of humans that represent 49 percent of the Iraqi population. That group who cannot travel without the consent of a father or husband or brother or uncle? That group which faces beheading if they drive to work or even go to work? That group which cannot marry freely or study freely? The United States is committed to the rights of Kurds, Sunnis and Shias - what level of commitment and enforcement are Obama and McCain willing to pledge to the forgotten, oppressed half of Iraq?

The typical rejoinder to this question is that it represents the height of Western arrogance for the United States to make demands that trample cultural traditions. But is seems that women always fall on the losing side of the cultural and moral dividing line. It is a moral abomination to subjugate torture, oppress and kill Kurds - but the same done to Iraqi women is a hands-off affair.


Few will defend the Sudanese practice of female genital mutilation as a cultural right (even as it is practiced on women by women). Is this where the line to women's rights begin? Perhaps if women resorted to planting IEDs and suicide bombings to support their cause they would meet with greater results in Iraq. (What, incidentally, do female suicide bombers get as their reward in paradise? Twelve virgin men? Is even Paradise a place made for man?)

The current Iraqi constitution guarantees equal rights to all Iraqi citizens regardless of sex. But in practice this is not the case because of this same constitution's principle reliance on Sharia , the Islamic code of law. The timeline of women's rights in the United States is long and still developing. & I am not so na & iuml;ve to think that Iraq should be transformed over night - but the progression of women's rights in Iraq deserves at least as much attention as oil sharing revenues between Kurds, Shias and Sunnis.

Like most things in Iraq, lasting change will have to come from within. But as invaders and now occupiers we have a moral duty to at least facilitate positive change. The United States has plenty of women, white and otherwise, making our country and the world a better place. Iraq deserves to have a few of their own and we are in a position to help. & Will McCain or Obama do it?

I now leave you with my current favorite strong, smart, defiant, beautiful white woman (sorry Mom).