Yesterday I came across an article about an untold consequence of the war in Iraq — the instability is causing harm to unprotected women. The Huffington Post piece explains that until the US invasion, rape was relatively rare in Iraq. Now women are the targets of violence, including rape, perpetrated by members of armed Islamist groups, Iraqi government forces, foreign soldiers, and private military security contractors.
Tragically, there are no laws governing rape in Iraq. Far from seeing justice, a raped woman may even be killed by her family in an "honor killing." One of the only hopes for these vulnerable Iraqi women is to escape the country, and there are two groups — the Organization For Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) and MADRE — who are helping these women do so. The article reports:
Like Harriet Tubman, a former African American slave who escaped the plantation and later helped create the network of underground routes that helped transport other slaves to freedom, OWFI and MADRE have co-founded two important projects that are helping Iraqi women flee violence.
The groups have set up shelters that offer a safe haven for women while also providing workshops, education, and leadership training. The goal is to help women become active participants in the political system so they can then support other women. Let's hope they succeed.