Iraqi Women Turn to Social Media in Battle for Rights Amid Danger
The Internet’s Role in Advancing Women’s Rights Globally
The Internet has played an important role in everyone’s life since it was introduced to the public. Since its introduction to the world, it has become a necessity in every home for being an unlimited source of information that people use for academic research and even as far as diagnosing themselves medically, amongst many other things. But most importantly, it became a powerful communication tool among people to share their opinions and thoughts throughout the globe in just one click. In America, by the use of Social Media, women are fighting to be seen and to have their voices heard. By fighting for their rights, these women have created multiple movements to shed light on their life-changing experiences, from the #MeToo movement that addressed if they have ever been sexually harassed or assaulted to #LeanIn, which encourages women to not be afraid to speak their truth and achieve their goals.
Iraqi Women Rights Suppressed: The Struggle Behind Screens
But this isn’t the case in Iraq; Political, religious, and ethical views have a large impact on what can be viewed and shared on Social Media, specifically for women. For decades, women had no rights. They weren’t even allowed to be in a place that wasn’t home, especially if no male was there to escort them. But as time went by, they became more aware of how well women are being treated around the world and how they can aspire to be the same to practice their equal rights. However, aspirations and dreams to practice equal rights were not welcomed because when you live in a country plagued by war, the consequences keep those who ask questions Silent.
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As time went by, Iraqi women realized that social media can be a way of expressing and conveying a point of view. They became more aware of what was happening around the world through different social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. This was an eye-opener for them. It was their only access to freedom. They saw what other women around the world could do and the change they made using Social Media movements. They finally decided to stand up and be heard, so the floodgates opened. Many women started using Social Media to spread awareness of how badly they are treated and how they should fight for their rights, whether it is at home or the workplace.
The High Cost of Advocacy: Tragic Ends for Women’s Rights Influencers in Iraq
As a result, many women faced death threats, which ultimately ended in tragedies. In the case of Tara Fares, an aspiring young woman who was assassinated in broad daylight in Baghdad in September of 2018 for simply wanting to live her life of freedom, integrity, and respect, her tragic death shed light on the challenges faced by individuals striving to express themselves openly in environments where such basic rights are often threatened. By sharing fashion photos and blogs about living her life just as the rest of the world without any fear, she unwillingly became one of the top female Arab Influencers, which caused her to lose her life. Sadly, during the same period, many other activists were found dead in suspicious circumstances. When, finally, women started standing up for themselves, they were silenced.
Women’s Rights: America vs. Iraq’s Reality
Women should be treated with respect regardless of where they live. Human rights should be exercised with freedom whether you are a man or a woman. Ethics plays a big part when it comes to exercising your rights. To be held back and restricted on what you should say or do is not right. Society, religion, and ethical beliefs are different all around the globe. However, to be judged and to have your fate decided based on what someone may think is right is not what I would call ethical. But the problem Iraqis are facing today is not only because of its conservative Muslim society, but it also goes decades back when no law was written to protect and respect women. In America, we see women acting like a great force to rewrite the rules because, for years, they have been heard, as early as 1848 when the first women’s rights movement was held in Seneca Falls that resulted in writing the Declaration of Sentiment that states all women and men are created equal.
Looking through the eyes of the law, one would come to think that multiple assassinations of female influencers in Iraq would cause the government to wake up and decide to end the prejudice towards women. Not only did the government not pursue those responsible for Tara’s assassination to show justice for women are served and they are protected no matter what, but horrifying news has circled to introduce laws that, if approved, will destroy women’s futures.
Those laws include allowing girls as young as nine years old to be approved for marriage. Should this law be passed, it would be a defeat for everything women stand for. This will not only weaken women’s power but will also defeat any advancements in achieving their rights as simple as being able to express themselves on social media, whether it be taking pictures or posting a daily blog.
In America, social media proved to be a tool to bring awareness and to send out a message of positivity and protection. By the use of Social Media, women in Iraq found a sense of empowerment. Even though they were able to express their point of view behind this curtain, thinking they were safe, this proved not to be the case, as seen with Tara Fares and many others. These women were intended to be role models and to be the voice of women’s rights, but their lives were cut short. Unless there is a major transformation in laws passed against women and with the leaders of Iraq to help protect and give women their true value, there will never be a change.
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