US-Backed Militias Curb Iraqi Women's Rights

'Sahwa' stabilize areas but rule with medieval customs
By Kate Rockwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2008 1:43 PM CDT
A member of the Concerned Local Citizens Group stands guard over a man suspected of weapons trafficking during a joint patrol with U.S. and Iraqi troops Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Women's rights in Iraq are devolving under the rule of US-backed militias, Newsweek reports. These Sahwa or "Awakening" groups have stabilized regions, but rule with medieval laws and customs: In some areas, women are commonly kept at home, forced to wear headscarves, or are married into polygamous relationships, Newsweek reports.

Some women still battle for their rights, campaigning against "honor killings," but others say Sahwa have torn society's fabric. "They have their own personal fiefdoms, and they answer to no one," said one women's rights expert. "The tribal groups may not be directly affiliated with al-Qaeda, but they're no less conservative."