Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, April 28, 2006

Numbers of Widows Rise in Wake of Violence

April 26, 2006

Around 90 women in Iraq become widows every day because of the continuing violence in the country, Reuters reported this week. These women have the added hardship of providing for their families’ alone, and they do not get much help from the government. Many of the men that get killed are police officers. Up to 15 officers die a day, leaving their wives behind to fend for themselves amid ongoing sectarian violence.

According to Reuters:

“Officials point out that at least 15 police officers' wives become widows every day because police constitute major targets for the insurgency. ‘Every married police officer is concerned about what he will bequeath his family,’ said senior police officer Major Khalid Maruf. ‘They fear that death is around the corner.’”

“Local NGOs say the situation has become even more critical since the 2003 US-led invasion of the country, which has given rise to increasing violence and sectarian killing. ‘Saddam Hussein was responsible for killing thousands of men during his 25 years of brutal rule,’ said Ibtissam Kamal, a member of a local organization that works on the issue but which prefers anonymity for security reasons. ‘But more people have died during the past three years, most of them men whose families are now without support.’”

“The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is also looking into ways of helping widows who have lost husbands as a result of violence. According to a senior ministry official, projects currently being studied include the creation of more job opportunities and the establishment of free day-care centres.”

“Under the Saddam Hussein regime, widows of "martyrs", particularly during the Iran-Iraq war, were provided with compensation and free education for their children. In some cases, they were provided with free homes.”

“Under the current system, however, no such safety net exists, and widows have few resources at their disposal. ‘I lost my husband six months ago, and don't have parents to help me, because they died in the Iran-Iraq war,’ said recently-widowed Yousra Ibraheem, 38. "My late husband supported me, but left me with no means of sustenance."”

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