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Women pay the price of war in Iraq


Often called as the cradle of some of the earliest civilizations, Iraq now has become a battlefield for challenging forces after the US-led war to oust President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Once the heartland of the Islamic Empire, Iraq now is known more for increasing prostitution and trafficking of women. Violence of military across the nation is such that it has ruined the national institutions, torn apart families and neighbourhoods. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed and an estimated 4.4 million Iraqis displaced since 2003.

As situation has worsened, a large number of girls, many of them in their early teens, have been forced into prostitution and sex trafficking. Girls are trafficked to destinations like Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

Reportedly the brothel owners in Iraq mention that during US raids in Iraq in 2003, transporting girls to and from the US air bases was a common practice.

Research reports say that the US-led war cemented a way for insecurity and lawlessness, corruption, religious extremism, poverty and gender-based violence. This led to kidnappings of girls and women for money and sex and the trade was supported by the development of new technologies associated with the globalization of the sex industry. Although the Iraqi constitution considers trafficking unlawful, still in the absence of criminal laws the offenders are let free easily. Shockingly, it is often the victims of trafficking and prostitution that are penalised.

It is sad that the country that once enjoyed the highest female literacy rate across the Middle East is now in the shackles of evil practices like prostitution and human trafficking. The Gulf War in 1991 changed the whole picture especially for women in Iraq. Though the Iraqi women boasted of 35 per cent of national working power in various fields of work, sadly that has not translated into more rights for women across the nation.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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