Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Iraqi Constitution

Billmon has an excellent analysis of the situation in Iraq and why ongoing constitutional process (despite how badly some want it to be so) can't be considered a success for the democratic process or long-term peace in the region.

In addition to setting up a future of civil war and armed conflict between Kurdish, Shi'a, and Sunni factions, the constitution predictably whittles away the rights of women. Appallingly, our President bald-facedly claims that the Kurdish/shiite designed document "guaranteed women's rights and the freedom of religion". For just a few examples, access to education is only available to girls through elementary school, and women are given far fewer rights under Sharia than they had under secular government. Placing Sharia as THE influence of law is what has allows exactly the sorts of oppression and abuse of women as we saw in Afghanistan under the Taliban or in Iran after the revolution. Without constitutional protections, there is nothing to stop the women of Iraq from being victimized by radical religious interpretations that allow for honor killings, female genital mutilation, and being stoned to death. Sharia is, rightly or wrongly, used as the justification for these sorts of routine abuses in other countries. Read Persepolis; is this really what "democracy" should offer the women of Iraq?

We claimed that we were going to help the plight of women in Afghanistan when we sent our soldiers to war there, to break up the Taliban and go after Al-Qaida terrorists. Yet "Violence against women remains dramatic in Afghanistan in its intensity and pervasiveness, in public and private spheres of life", and although the Freepers went bananas because Hilary Clinton said it, there IS compelling evidence that women in Iraq now are worse off than they were under Saddam, at least prior to 1991. You can read more here and here.

These things weigh on me. I'm ashamed to see the result America's "help" and "liberation" have held for the daughters of Afghanistan and Iraq.


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Blogger Alan Kellogg Says:

Life is not an episode of CSI. Life is messy, life is confused. Life takes its own sweet time sorting things out. You can't hurry life. You can't make life do the right thing.

The wonder of the Iraqi constitution is not that it's so flawed, the wonder of the Iraqi constitution is that it even got written at all. So it has problems. Those can be worked out. The important thing about it is, it provides a framework that can bring the people of Iraq together to work out disagreements and points of contention. Are there troubles ahead? When are there never troubles ahead? But in a democracy you don't need to take up arms to correct a wrong.

Democracy works not because it eliminates disagreements, but because it gives you the tools to work out disagreements without resorting to violence.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

I'm not sure what your comment is getting at, Alan. I'm not saying that life is an episode of CSI, or that it's not messy or any of that. I'm not saying that I'm disappointed that that the Iraqi constitution isn't perfect, nor that I expected it to "eliminate disagreements".

I'm saying that as written and with something like 25% of the population opposed to it, the document is NOT "a framework that can bring the people of Iraq together." I'm saying I think it fails to provide needed, explicit protections for the female population, even if you put aside the issues that I believe will shortly pit the Shiites vs. the Kurds vs. the Sunnis.

I'm saying that I don't see this document as being able to cement democracy in the region and allowing the people to work through their "disagreements" nonviolently.

Blogger Alan Kellogg Says:

It's a start. Yes, it has mistakes. But at least the participants have decided to work their problems out rather than take up arms. When you do that you are admitting the other side can contribute to the dialog.

Everything human made is going to be flawed, the best you can do is to include a method where by the flaws can be corrected.

BTW, the abuse of women in Afghanistan has long been a problem. The abuse of women has long been a problem everywhere. But no piece of legislation is going to solve that problem right away. It will take time, and the willingness to learn the why of abuse, and the courage to accept the answers we get.

Sometimes a woman is abused not as a way for the man to show his domination of her, but as a way for the woman to show her domination of him. It's not rational, but then humans are notable more for their irrationality than otherwise.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

"Sometimes a woman is abused not as a way for the man to show his domination of her, but as a way for the woman to show her domination of him."

Try as I might, I cannot make this make sense. A woman is abused as a way to show her domination of the man?!

Sorry, that's just completely crazy.


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