The elections in Iraq may be seen by some as a step forward, but the jury is out on whether this is good news for women. London's Green MEP, Jean Lambert has called for action to end the atrocities, and support women struggling to overcome oppression.
Jean, who was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights last year, spoke alongside Houzan Mahmoud, UK Head of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) and co-founder of the Iraq Freedom Congress, at a seminar in the University of London Union yesterday. Jean said; "The elections in Iraq have not solved the ongoing problems there but seemed to simply increase the power of an already established, male dominated power structure. Women in Iraq are subject to sexual discrimination, random attacks of violence, torture and supposed honour killings. To overcome this violence they need both physical and financial support.
"Unable to involve themselves fully in society because of the dangers they face everyday, many Iraqi women are being denied their basic human rights. These actions are not part of a historical Iraq and do not belong there today. This brutality has been encouraged over the last ten years through activists pushing a certain version of Islam, but it is not too late to change the situation and give women in Iraq the opportunity to regain their freedom and equality."
Jean continued to praise the work of OWFI and urged others to do what they could: "With the rise of groups such as OWFI changes will slowly be made but it is vital that the European Parliament and other groups provide the necessary support to continue these developments."
The seminar focused on Iraq in the current political situation in Iraq in light of the 'elections'. Along with Jean Lambert MEP and Houzan Mahmoud the seminar heard from Nadia Mahmood, Iraq Freedom Congress and Maria Exall, Communication Workers Union (CWU).
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Notes to editors:
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.
Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq: www.equalityiniraq.com