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Zeinab Sadiq Jaafar and the Battle for Women in Iraq

We don’t know yet how many Iraqi women were elected in the recent provincial elections. We do know that they risked their lives for simply putting their names on the ballot. Few dared to campaign. Of the 14,400 candidates, 4,000 of them were women. Originally the Iraqi Constitution, responding to the demand of women, called for a 25 percent quota for women. Without explanation, that requirement was stricken for provincial elections. Nevertheless, women stepped forward. Their courage is awe-inspiring. In the city of Basra, according to the New York Times, 325 women’s names were on the list of 1,280 candidates. One of them was Zeinab Sadiq Jaafar, a 41 year-old lawyer. She has campaigned vigorously, putting up posters everywhere and believed she could win, “if there is no cheating.” Her detractors in Baghdad were so threatened by her that they spread rumors that her law degree was forged and even that she had been assassinated. She had to go on local television and blare her recorded voice from trucks to prove she was alive. I am deeply moved by her story and that of the other women who ran for office in Iraq. They are running for public office, demanding their right to participate in this fragile democracy, with the daily risk of not only being rumored to have been assassinated, but to actually be assassinated. I am forced to ask, why, in comparison, are American women so accepting of the political status quo. The percentage of women in the Congress is 17 percent. Why aren’t women demanding greater representation? Why aren’t we running for office more often? What do we risk? Criticism, invasion of privacy, an unfair opponent. How tepid those risks seem, compared to those encountered by our brave Iraqi sisters.


Tourist Eyes

For two weeks my husband and I traveled to London, Paris, Zurich and Bern—familiar haunts where one can drink water from the tap. Read More..

Gays in the Military

We’ve come a long way in the sixteen years since the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” was adopted to deal with the question of gay and lesbian members of the military.

This time, advocacy for repeal did not come from any outside group; it came from the apex of the military establishment itself. Read More..

The Supreme Court and Corporate Electioneering

The Supreme Court decision which will allow unfettered campaign contributions from corporations and unions poses a threat to the very workings of our democracy.

Read More..

In the Wake of Massachusetts

A political earthquake hit Massachusetts last night. The tectonic plates of the Democratic Party shifted with the election of Republican Scott Brown to the United States Senate and left untold amounts of debris in its wake. Read More..

Greeting the New Year

This time of year we automatically say "Happy New Year" to friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, days after the champagne corks have popped and the fireworks are but a memory. It has become a standard greeting for the first days of January, partly to cheer ourselves up so we can face the rest of the winter. Read More..