Students, mothers, activists … in Iraq, women engage in demonstrations

For the first time in this conservative country, many Iraqis are taking part in rallies against power. Hoping that this helps to change the place of women in society.

Time to Play 8 min.

Iraqi protesters wearing "Guy Fawkes" masks gather at an anti-government demonstration in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on November 6, 2019.
Iraqi protesters wearing "Guy Fawkes" masks gather at anti-government demonstration in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on November 6, 2019. SABAH ARAR / AFP

With her long black hair hidden under her hood and her face masked by a bandanna, Arwa spends several hours a day among the young men who are holding the front line facing the Iraqi security forces on the Sinak Bridge near Tahrir Square. in Baghdad. Long hours breathing tear gas and seeing the wounded fall, sometimes to rub shoulders with the dead. "I have to hide myself, pretend to be a man, otherwise the guys would not let me stay in the front line. They say it's too dangerous for a woman, we're fragile, but I'm not. ", says the 22-year-old woman, nerves still alive tensions accumulated during the clashes.

"My father thinks I'm going to work" – Arwa

Far from the barricades, Arwa, a native of the Shiite conservative Al-Kadhimiya neighborhood, keeps his bandana on his face so as not to be identified by "Spies of national security and militia" or be recognized by relatives. "My father thinks I'm going to work. In fact, I resigned from the company where I worked because they did not want to give me time off to protest. People are dying here, I will not sit idly by! "she explains. "I do not fear anyone except my father"she adds, laughing.

This is not the first time that Arwa has imposed her atypical choices on her father. From 2015 to 2017, Arwa was a military photographer, embarked with Iraqi forces in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) organization, wounded twice, and then suffered a depression. "I'm on the front line because I'm not afraid, I'm empty inside. That's my strength, I have to use it against this government. What has prevented people from acting all these years is fear. I do not want to live in a zombie like them "she adds.

Read also In Iraq, one of the biggest protests since the beginning of the protest

"With these young men, we share the same destiny"

Few Iraqis, like Arwa, hold the barricades on Tahrir Square, but since October 25, many have participated in demonstrations against the government, something unprecedented in this conservative society. High school girls, students, mothers and civil society activists, etc., they express their support by their mere presence or join the teams of volunteers who take care of the wounded, the logistics and coordination of the sit-in, or even think groups.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here