After two years of fact-finding and months of lobbying over local and regional televisions, newspapers, websites and radios, OWFI's activism receive the first results: the legislators have forwadrded a draft law against trafficking of women and girls.
As usual, our NGO was not informed of the draft law and we had to hear it from the media.
As usual, the govenment encourages their "SELECT NGOs" to hold meetings and raise their timid demands about the same issue albeit too late. They continue to call them "key" organizations in spite of their feable agenda on VAW
As usual, the officials announce that they will someday set up shelters and visit prisons to help the trafficked women with the help of their "SELECT NGOs".
The attempt of undermining our efforts to lead women's struggle for their rights will not deter us from continuing to fight.
For more background, please read the following article in the Time Magazine, dated April 13:http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1890728,00.html
Please note that the writer of the article has misunderstood details on the registration of OWFI. Although we run informal shelters which have saved tens of women from honour killings, domestic abuse, sectarian abuse, and trafficking, our organization is fully registered at the government.
At this point, we need to document our main debates on media with officials:
March 6: A shocking article on Time Magazine about OWFI activists who risk their lives while visiting brothels and "no light" districts. Previous victim of trafficking who is an OWFI shelters resident speaks out. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1883696,00.html
March 12: Spokesperson of the Iraqi government, Ali Al Dabbagh admitting to existence of the problem of trafficking of women in answer to facts brought forward by OWFI president, Yanar Mohammed: Al Arabiya.net website. As a result, 360 people joined the debate and forwarded their opinions. http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/03/12/68277.html
March 16: Female Parliamentarian rejecting the possibility that Iraqi women can be trafficked or practice prostitution. Sameera Al Mousawi is the in charge of the Women and Children's Committee in the parliament. She waived away the issue that Yanar Mohammed brought forward in Al Diyar TV talk show, claiming that the discussion was an insult to Iraqi women. (please see attached photos).
April 1: From Iraq show on Al Arabiya Satelite TV, interviews OWFI president and also interviews a previous victim of trafficking(resident of OWFI shelters) who discloses being trafficked to a Arabic Gulf country where she and her many women were exploited by royalist princes of the gulf: the show was not aired for reasons which were not disclosed.
April 13: Media exposing the new Draft Law against Trafficking in Persons. Another article on the Time Magazine which leaked the news and interviewed government and ngo women about the issue as mentioned above:http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1890728,00.html
Our utmost thanks go to the courageous Rania Abou Zeid who ventured into the Iraqi scene and collected the facts. We also thank the Time Magazine for allowing their pages to become reason for protecting a population of exploited Iraqi females.
We will still be watching the Draft Law as the State Shura Council (a newly founded council of clerics in the "democratic" Iraq) reviews it and takes the final decision.
Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, president OWFI
April 16, 2009