Historically, Iraqi women and girls have enjoyed more rights than many of their counterparts in the Middle East. As the result of the Gulf War, the sanctions, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, they have become truly oppressed. My twenty-year-old cousin Renda is currently a student at Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, Iraq. Established in 1227, Mustansiriyah is one of the oldest university in the world. Extremists have targeted this university since the 2003 U.S. and British-led invasion, the most brutal act having taken place on January 16, 2007 when a double bomb attack killed sixty five people, mostly female students, and wounded 138. Though these incidents did not deter Renda from attending classes, they have had a negative impact on the majority of the country’s students. According to a joint Ministry of Interior (MoE) and UNICEF study, 800,000 Iraqi children, 74 percent of which are female, do not attend school. I met Renda five years ago during my visit to Iraq. She loved school, and told me how she envisioned a great future for herself and her family. She had said, “I know life is hard now. But it will get better. When innocent people suffer, eventually they will rise.” She meant… Read full this story
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