March 8, 2008
Her husband and three brothers were killed. Her parents were already dead. Her house was burnt down. She was pregnant at the time and lost the baby. But, in the months that followed, Nadia Hussein had to endure much more. Now she lives at a refuge for women in the centre of
WHAT WAR BRINGS: widows and abandoned elderly
This post is probably just pointing out the obvious: men get killed the most when wars and occupations come to your hometown, thereby leaving widows behind (and oftentimes orphans, as this post covered).
The years of violence in
Her twin sisters were killed trying to flee Falluja in 2004. Then her husband was killed by a car bomb in
Another report puts the number of widows between one and two million.
Moussawi, basing her estimate on a Ministry of Planning report from mid-2007, put the number of divorcees and widows close to 1 million of a total of 8.5 million women aged between 15 and 80.
Nearly three decades of war, brutal totalitarianism, invasion, occupation and insurgency in
Most widows end up begging on the streets, or waiting outside mosques for handouts, or can be seen going through garbage. Many are homeless, and many have children. Some have turned to prostitution, or joined up with the insurgents. The article linked above says that only 120,000 Iraqi widows get any kind of state aid. Some are forced into unwanted marriages. The problem seems to be deeper than just poverty. There is also a high level of shame for the widows, and their society’s attitudes about the many widows shows disrespect for their rights.
They accept what has happened to them as the "will of God". Indeed those who campaign on their behalf say one of the hardest things is getting the widows to think that they deserve better lives. "It's not just about legislation," said Hana Adwar, a campaigner for women's rights. "The problem is the way people behave inside the family. The question is how to change attitudes and behaviour towards them."
………There's talk of passing new laws, and finding extra money for the hundreds of thousands of widows. But campaigners say what they need more than anything is more respect in Iraqi society.
Recently, an Iraqi blogger (and friend of mine) decided to do something to help Iraqi widows. She raised some funds to buy four of them sewing machines, so that they can become self-sustaining. She came to my home town (as my guest) and we raised $850. She and her son contributed some more money to achieve this goal. Here is a link to the pictures of what became of the money that was raised and donated locally.
There was a story out today on a program to get Iraqi widows to remarry. Some Iraqis think this is helpful, some say exploitative. The pictures of the widows, along with personal information like the number of children she has, are put into a book where prospective future husbands can look at it. I am not sure if this is a good approach or not, but people do find love in the oddest of ways.
Some Iraqi men disagreed with Al Musawi. Fadhil, a man in his mid-30s, said, "We always hear cases of people getting married through Internet sites, so it's not a problem to have a woman's picture showcased in a photo album. "It's better having a man looking after [a] widow instead of leaving her alone, facing hard-life circumstances in
I have only run across one story about what has happened to the elderly in
The guests of the Mercy Home for the Elderly, a residence for indigent senior citizens, come from across
…… Manager Hadi Hamid Taie says his guests are mostly victims of the violence and economic hard times that followed the American-led invasion six years ago. “This phenomenon is new,’’ Taie says. “According to our religion, it is not permitted to abandon your parents. On the contrary, Islam requires that you take special care of them.’’
The overall population of this home for the elderly has gone done recently, since the violence has gone down and conditions are improving. Some have returned to their families. But people still continue to arrive, due to poverty, instability, and the ongoing violence.
A recent blog post by an Iraqi journalist working for McClatchy’s talked about the need for more homes and services for
Many old people in
The problems of the widow and abandoned elderly in
There are an estimated one and a half to two million war widows in Afghanistan, making the problem much worse than in Iraq. But even less has been reported on these widows. They are living in desperate poverty. None of them get assistance from their government. The chances of re-marriage are slim. This report is from 2007.
Every morning Gul, who was widowed when an American bomb hit her house in 2001, leaves her two daughters to go begging on the streets of
Sometimes they stand outside government buildings with pictures of their deceased husbands. They are ignored. They are ignored by the NATO and
This report says that about 90% of the widows have children, and the average ago of an Afghan widow is 35 years old. They often have no means of supporting themselves, reducing them to beggars.
The group known as “Beyond 9/11” is quite amazing. I saw a movie about them earlier this year, and their goal is to help Afghan widows become self-sufficient. The group was founded by two women who were made widows from the attack on 9/11.
I could not find any reports on widows in
If you support the continued occupation of