Welcome to Peace News, the newspaper for the UK grassroots peace and justice movement. We seek to oppose all forms of violence, and to create positive change based on cooperation and responsibility. See more
"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky
Haifa Zangana, 'City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman's Account of War and Resistance'
There are at least three hundred thousand widows in Baghdad alone, and a further one million throughout Iraq, with their numbers rising daily. City of Widows is a timely reminder of the continuing calamitous affect of the Iraq war, particularly on Iraqi women. It interweaves Zangana's personal story of resistance, imprisonment and torture under Saddam Hussein with a history of Iraq from the early twentieth century to the present day.
The promotion of women's rights was given as a justification for the US/UK invasion, and Iraqi women portrayed as passive victims. Zangana's clear and concise account of modern Iraqi history tells a different story. Iraqi women were among the most liberated in the Middle East, with good access to education and active involvement in society. Zangana contrasts this with women's struggle for survival today in occupied Iraq, concluding that “the war has been, in the final analysis, a war on Iraqi women”. She provides some harrowing accounts and information on the consequences of war and occupation, stories which are generally unheard.
Many women's organisations operating in Iraq since the invasion have been funded by the US. Zangana is highly critical of these, seeing them as “softoccupiers” in the aftermath of liberation, promoting a colonial feminism that is irrelevant to Iraqi women. The points raised here are interesting, but I found them a bit obscured by the amount of detail.
Women are the focus of this book, but its reach is broader, covering history, culture, invasion, occupation and resistance. The factual information is invaluable as are the clear arguments and analysis. Zangana's aim is to give readers in the West an insight into a country they have impacted on so fully and terribly. She has succeeded in doing this and I found the book a compelling and thought provoking read. Mainstream information on the occupation of Iraq comes heavily edited and biased, and books like this are crucial if we are to avoid this propaganda seeping into our thinking. It made me remember exactly why it is so crucial to oppose the occupation and Britain's role in it.