Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Protecting the Women who Run for Office in Iraq

As Iraq begins to draw toward its long-delayed elections, many women running for office say they feel unsafe when listing their name on the ballot. So what to do to protect these women? Apparently the answer might be as simple as keeping their names secret on a ballot. This seems weird to many Americans -- much of campaigns are based on a candidate's personality, but in Iraq the revelation of a woman's name on a ballot can be deadly:
"I feel that I am unprotected," said the teacher, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because of her fears. "I am not going to run in the elections because I fear for the safety of members of my family who might be targeted."
In other countries that elect representatives on a proportional representation system, voters select a political party they feel best represents them, then however many seats the party wins determines how many people on the party's list will serve in office. This is the case in Iraq, with 25 percent of seats designated to women.

But the women in Iraq are fearful of running for office. They fear not only for their own lives, but for the lives of their families. In the instance of protecting women's right to run for office, it may be prudent to allow them to remain anonymous on the ballot. But my question becomes, what happens after these women are elected? They may be just as threatened after election as they are during the electoral process.

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