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Quota for women

Published : Apr 23, 2010 00:00 IST



Interestingly, Iraq already has a fixed quota for women in Parliament. By law, women will fill a quarter of the 325 seats. Many women candidates, however, won their seats without the quota. Those who won were mainly from the Sadrist bloc known for its Islamist world view. Under the complicated formula for allocating seats to women, those who win seats on their own steam are placed ahead of their quota-assisted counterparts.

Women candidates belonging to the other parties complained of indifference from male party functionaries. Evidently, their male counterparts thought it was a waste of time campaigning for their women candidates as they would anyway sneak into Parliament through the quota system.

But Iraqi women were no doubt happier under Saddam Hussein because they enjoyed equal rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Women got a years maternity leave then. It has now been cut to six months. There were no cases of forced abductions and marriages until the American invasion. Today, many women have been forced to give up their jobs and even leave the country because of the collapse of law and order and the triumph of feudal tribal mores.

John Cherian

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated Apr 23, 2010.)



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