Violelnce in iraq is leaving in its wake a new social issue– the increasing number of Iraq women who have become widows in a nation torn apart by death and destruction. Samir al-Moussawi, an Iraqi female member of Parliament, is continually receiving letters from women who plead for assistance in a world that has abandoned them. The number of women left without breadwinners is mounting, and only a fraction of them receive any financial support from the government. According to Moussawi, the letters ask, “what shall the widow do, what is right?” She fears militants exploit these vulnerable women just as yesterday when two females blew themselves up and killed a 100 people.
No one has an exact figure as to the number of women who are widows after the 1980-1988 war with Iran, the Gulf War and the present conflict but Moussawi estimates the number of widows and divorced women is close to one million out of total of 8.5 women aged between 15 to 30. Narmeen Othman, Iraq’s minister for women’s affairs puts the figure at about two million in a nation of 27 million. A high percent are young women and only 84,000 receive government support which ranges from $45 to $90 a month. Aid groups estimate around 43% of Iraqis live in “absolute poverty.”
George Bush offers glib comments about the “success of the surge” but is most probably oblivious as to the consequences of his failed effort in Iraq that has left millions in poverty and milliions of women. Those figures will never appear in any public statement by the president.