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What is behind the plight of Iraqi women?

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11.10.2018

Women are bearing the brunt of Iraq's disastrous modern history.

Despite early advances in women's rights, including the fact that Iraq was the first country in the Arab world to have a woman serve as cabinet minister back in 1959, and that Iraqi women have been allowed to train as doctors for almost 100 years, society has taken a number of steps backwards in gender equality and women's rights in recent decades.

Today, many Iraqi women try to meet overwhelming work and family obligations with little assistance from men. Some are forced to care for their children, parents and siblings all by themselves, as men in their lives continue to fight and die on ever-shifting military fronts. To make matters worse, most extreme forms of gender-based violence are also prevalent in Iraq. In recent years, religious militias massacred dozens of sex workers and tortured journalists in Baghdad. Meanwhile, ISIL enslaved thousands of Yazidi women, many of whom are still missing today.

In the last couple of months, another worrying trend has emerged. Between August and September, four high-profile women have been assassinated. They lived in different cities and had different occupations. They only had two common traits: They were all women and they were all successful in their respective fields.

Tara Fares, one of Iraq's most prominent social media stars, was assassinated in broad daylight on September 28; Suad al-Ali, a human rights activist (to whom I do not have the honour of being related), was........

© Al Jazeera