Aug 242011
 

The following letter was received from Yanar Mohammed, President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), an organization FPN has long supported in their tireless efforts to help women in Iraq.  While their evidence is anecdotal, it is substantive enough to warrant immediate further investigation so that justice and help can be gotten for those who are suffering.

In the current weak (sic), an OWFI delegation visited repeatedly the district of Haweeja, west of Kirkuk city in Iraq, to find that the villages have practically turned into contaminated backyards of radioactive waste of the live ammunition operations field of the US base. This matter has initiated human tragedy in levels unprecedented in the district, and yet was totally ignored by both the Iraqi and US governments who were not concerned with the human lives wasted in the surroundings of the military operations training field.

Within a Haweeja population of 109,000 people, a new disabled generation of infants and children were born with abnormal and under-developed brains, most of whom suffer polio, paralysis and sometimes blindness. The cases registered in the local clinic are 412, while the real numbers add up to more than the 600. Similarly, cancer spreads in all ages, with big numbers among teenagers who currently await their death without any treatment offered by the Iraqi government or the US military which is responsible for the contaminations resulting from their daily live ammunition radiation and emission. The US government continues to grant all the liberty for its military arsenal to practice shelling and explosions in the training field of Haweeja which is only one mile from the homes of families, with no barriers to stop children, sheppards and sheep to walk across in the ammunition training fields.

Most of the disability and cancer cases are in the villages closest to the US base training field, and in the direction of the wind, i.e. south of the field, such as Al Kubeyba, Al Hamdouniya, Al Aatshana and Hor Al Sufun. For example, Al Kubeyba village has a population of 1400 people – out of whom 21 cases were diagnosed with cancer. 3 have recently died while 18 are awaiting their destiny desperately with no hope of being provided treatment or medication by the authorities who should be held accountable.

OWFI delegate invited a group of reporters on August 23rd to witness, report and reveal the Haweeja dilemma globally, thus reversing the censorship of the authorities over it. It arrived to our attention that a resident of Haweeja had taken a sample of soil to Kirkuk Health Department, to be threatened in his next visit that he is summoned for investigation by the US military forces.

OWFI calls for the international courts and tribunals to set up a war crime tribunal committee to investigate into the party which was responsible of contaminating the air, soil and water of Haweeja and thus causing birth defects, disabilities, polio, paralysis and cancers. OWFI also calls upon the international humanitarian organizations to support the people of Haweeja against their daily sufferings, knowing that the Iraqi government deprived them of clean drinking water, adequate basic services, and sources of income. Moreover, there is absolutely no governmental concern of providing them with physical or psychological treatment or medication in any way.

Furthermore, OWFI holds the US government accountable for the devastation of tens of thousands of Haweeja residents who suffer from having one or more disabled children in their immediate family (25% of newborns), thus forcing the residents to abstain from having more children who are destined to suffer alongside their parents. OWFI demands an adequate financial compensation for the victims and their families, as they have been subjected to what amounts to be crimes of war. Exposing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians to depleted uranium and other radiation from a US base which is implanted within Iraqi villages shows a clear disregard for Iraqi human life and disrespect to international treaties. The US administrations demonstrates willingness to plague lives of thousands of unsuspecting innocent infants and teenagers with disability and cancer while denying them medication or even acknowledgement of any rights.

OWFI hopes to get help from international organizations to help reduce the sufferings of the people of Haweeja. Our experiences of eight years have taught us not to expect any positive response from both US and Iraqi governments who have cooperated in imposing the disaster in the first place.

Yanar Mohammed
Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, president
23/08/2011

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 August 24, 2011  Posted by on August 24, 2011 Comments Off
Aug 142011
 

The other night I had dinner with a male friend.  Afterwards he walked me to my car and I was glad he did because even in a very nice neighborhood, it always feels a little bit unsafe to walk alone, especially after dark.  In 50 plus years of living, I’ve long since lost track of the number of times I’ve been harassed on the street, usually minor incidents, but even minor incidents are intimidating and uncomfortable.  And that is why I attended SlutwalkDC.

According to the dictionary, the word “slut” means:

  1. a dirty, slovenly woman.
  2. an immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute.

The origin of the word can be traced back to the 1300′s, from the Norwegian word slutte, meaning impure liquid.  A derogatory label to say the least.  Which is why I was extremely uneasy when I first heard about the slutwalks that have been taking place in various cities around the world.

The slutwalks began after Toronto police proclaimed that, “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.  And that is precisely what this is about.

Time and time again, violence and harassment is blamed on the victim–what they wore, what they said, or simply their lack of penis and courts and police have all to often reinforced this in the way they investigate and prosecute these incidents.  Slutwalk isn’t saying that we like the word slut, it is about saying it doesn’t matter what we are wearing or saying or how we are acting, we have had enough of being harassed because we dared to walk down the street while being female.

So on a hot, humid and at times rainy day, hundreds of women and male allies marched down the streets of of Washington, DC.  Holly Kearl of the DC based Stop Street Harassment put it this way in her remarks to the crowd,

…we are taking back that power with our activism, with our SlutWalks and by refusing to be silent. We are creating power by being here today and walking and speaking out together.

Could this movement be called something like, “Women Against Street Harassment” instead of using the word slut?  Yes, but it would get a lot less attention.  Women have been speaking out against harassment since forever, and yet here we are with the problem continuing, so you know what?  If even the Toronto police are going to call us sluts because of how we dress, then it is time to use the word to turn the tables.  It also opens the door for great visuals and awesome signs, costumes and art were out in abundance at the walk in DC.  In addition to the pictures I’ve included here, there are more on the Feminist Peace Network Facebook page.

Finally, shared with her kind permission, Australian poet Susan Hawthorne recorded this poem about the use of the word slut:

———- Slut but but 2 compact small by Susan Hawthorne

———

Am I still uncomfortable about claiming the word “slut”?  Yes.  But that isn’t the issue here.  The issue is that women should never be blamed for the actions of their abusers and when that blaming continues to be institutionalized by those who are supposed to protect us, then that is what should make us uncomfortable, not the name we chose to give to our response.

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 August 14, 2011  Posted by on August 14, 2011 3 Responses »