Iraqi women step up

The protest started when young university graduates began protesting in front of the ministries in Baghdad, asking the government for jobs. They were shouting at the top of their lungs, as if was a flame inside their hearts.

In this patriarchal society in which men dominate everything, it’s unusual for women to come outside with a bunch of men and protest.

On Oct 25th, women and young students began protesting, even young girls.  The government response was brutal by all standards, with the army shooting people. The water cannons were flowing as regularly as the rain on a normal rainy day somewhere on planet earth. 

Most people who were protesting were asking for a normal life. For most of them, the protest was like a flame lit by the conflict, and by frustration with the corruption of the government.

Iraqi women take to the streets en masse

The early momentum of young women and students, unfortunately, has not continued. Kidnappings, like that of civil activist Saba al-maddawi,  who was kidnapped by an unknown group, stopped girls from going out and protesting.

It had previously been taboo for girls to go out and protest. But the girls broke all the handcuffs. They started to draw on the walls of the streets, help injured people, and say what others could not say. Getting out and protesting was a huge step for girls in Baghdad. It was like feeling really free, and understanding what it means to get outside and ask for your rights.

For many girls, drawing on the walls was a liberation. Maybe it did not last for a long time, but it definitely changed many perspectives about young women in Iraq.

An Iraqi woman painting a protest mural

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