Iraqi women suffer in silence

A new report by Oxfam has uncovered the reality of life for some of Iraqi society's most vulnerable people – women. Jennifer Abrahamson, Regional Media Coordinator with Oxfam GB, explains why more needs to be done to help them.

For almost six years now, images of horrific chaos and conflict in Iraq have been regularly beamed into our homes. Gradually, reports of violence have become fewer and further between. But what do we know about the lives that are being led behind the scenes we see on TV? Are things really getting better? And for whom?

Last year, Oxfam and the Iraqi women's rights organization, the Al-Amal Association ran a comprehensive survey, speaking to some of the most vulnerable people in Iraqi society -- women.  They discovered the hidden struggles of their daily lives and their most urgent needs. At the time, little information was available about the challenges that women in Iraq face. Sadly this is still largely the case today.

Now at least, the findings of the survey give us a snapshot of the difficulties that many Iraqi women continue to endure - often in silence and without any support.

  • A quarter of the women surveyed – 24% – had no access to clean water.
  • Nearly half of those who did have access to water – 48% – said it wasn’t suitable for drinking.
  • 82% said that access to electricity had worsened or had not improved since 2006.
  • 55% had been a victim of violence since 2003.

We've launched this report to coincide with International Women’s Day, because it's really important to highlight the plight of so many of these courageous women who have struggled hard to survive and suffered for so long in silence. This is their day.

Oxfam hopes that the Iraqi government and the international community will listen to the words of these remarkable women, women who provide an important foundation for the future of Iraq.

In pictures: Meet some of the women surveyed Read the report: "In Her Own Words: Iraqi women talk about their greatest concerns and challenges"

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