For secularism, equality and freedom

Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq statement on International Women's Day

The Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) sends its greetings for this historic day to women activists all over the world. For centuries women have been struggling for their rights and for equality and liberation in all parts of the world. Major changes have been won, but nowhere do we have real equality, and in many parts of the world the oppression and exploitation of women are still striking

Iraq is one of those places. The US-UK occupation has pushed Iraqi society back into a medieval world in which 'honour killings', beheadings, forced veiling and seclusion and sexual servitude are now a part of everyday life.

Now the reactionary, tribalist and sectarian government the US has installed in Iraq wants to go further by institutionalising the oppression of Iraqi women. The outcome of a war and occupation which was sold to the world as bringing 'liberation' and 'democracy' has been a hand-picked group of political hacks and tribal elders imposed on Iraqi society through a pseudo-parliament and a constitution that makes women second-class citizens.

For the last three years Iraqi women have stood up against not only the occupation but against political islamist groups who are fighting to establish an Iranian or Saudi Arabian-type regime of gender apartheid, with all marital and family matters regulated by islamic sharia law.

OWFI is fighting to mobilise Iraqi women and their supporters across the world against the occupation and islamisation of Iraq. The USA and its allies claim that in facilitating our subjugation they are respecting 'islamic culture' and 'Arab culture'.

We say that this viewpoint - permanently relegating people in the so-called muslim world to barbarism - borders on racism. We oppose politicised religion and demand a secular and egalitarian constitution for Iraq! They want to divide people along lines of religion, ethnicity and gender. We are demanding equality for all Iraqis, regardless of their origin!

Women in Iraq need your support more than ever. OWFI has been able to maintain and continue its work because of international support and solidarity, because of solidarity from women's, progressive and workers' organisations all over the world helping us to stand firm for our lives and our liberties.

We call upon you to join with us this International Women's Day to say no to religious law in Iraq and yes to equality and freedom.