Thousands of Iraqi women have become widows in liberated areas throughout Iraq in recent years as a result of the country’s war against ISIS. These women still receive no support from the government, nor international aid organisations.
As the world celebrated International Women’s Day, some women in Iraq feel that more than just celebrations are needed to improve the lives of women in the country. “All of the women of the world are treated well except Iraqi women,” said one Iraqi woman living in an IDP camp.
Despite the defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, thousands of women remain helpless in many of the liberated areas. Women who have been widowed due to ISIS cruelty and executions say that they have not received any help from the Iraqi Government nor international aid organisations.
Um Mustafa, a widow from Mosul bought a small shop in the Old City of Mosul and used it as a refuge and source of income for her and her family. Her husband was killed two years ago in the battles against ISIS, and her home destroyed by the shelling.
“No one cares about us, not even officials. No organisation has come, and we suffer from a difficult situation,” said Um Mustafa, showcasing her small grocery store. “We do not take a salary or help, and people give us money. Currently, my children are eating in the street. We need a solution.”
According to some number released by local NGOs, at least 20,000 widows are living in the Old City of Mosul alone, and most of them have not received any help and do not have a source of income.
“Due to the hard economic situation, the widows’ parents or in-laws cannot support her,” said Lubna Mohammed, the director of the Women’s Office in the Masalla Organisation. “[The widow] has to rely on herself to get support.”
However, this issue does not only plague Mosul but transcends all of Iraq. In the Amiriyat al-Fallujah displacement camp in Anbar, the women face more difficult situations. Not only do they not have providers, but they also live in temporary homes, not knowing where their fate will take them.
“As Iraqi women, the Iraqi Government must provide us with homes and help us,” said a woman from the camp.
This year, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission issued a report, which claims that at there are at least 3 million widows and 5 million orphaned children have been afflicted by war and acts of terror since the 2003 Iraq war. With staggering numbers like this, the Iraqi Government and other international organisations must take the necessary actions to help relieve these women and children, many of which, are living below the poverty line.