Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – An Iraqi woman aged no more than 30 years old, and who requested to be identified only as “Umm Ibrahim” informed Asharq Al-Awsat that she suddenly found herself solely responsible for the care of three children after her husband was killed by Al Qaeda in Diyala Province in Eastern Iraq. She said that what further increased her difficulties was that neither her or her late husband were employed, she was thus forced to appeal for aid from her late husband’s family, who she describes as affluent. However Umm Ibrahim was shocked when the family of her late husband refused to help her or her three children.
Umm Ibrahim told Asharq Al-Awsat that she knew dozens of widows who share the same problems, she said “The majority of whom are young in age and are unable to turn to their late husband’s family, and so it is up to us to search for a source of livelihood.” She added “For example, I have rented my own house for a higher rent than I pay to rent the small house that I have recently moved to and therefore make use of this difference in rent. In addition, I have also registered my children in a sponsorship project funded by an international organization, but the sum we receive is very small and does not exceed $10 per month per child.”
Bosaina Mahmoud Abbas an activist in the Diyala Province, and Director of the Eve Relief Organization stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Diyala Province “is currently suffering from a problem that warns of an imminent danger, and this is the swelling of the size of the number of widows, divorced women, and unemployed women who are forced to marry elderly men in order to ensure their own livelihood, and the livelihood of their children. But the question is; who guarantees that the new husband will actually support the widow and her children?” Bosaina Abbas also pointed that this phenomenon occurs in most regions that have witnessed conflict and strife.
She went on to say that “This is a strange phenomenon to our society that has only begun to occur recently. In my capacity as an official in an organization [aimed at helping] women, I recently met dozens of widows who complained that their late husbands families has disowned them and their children. Such a phenomenon is dangerous. Iraqi society in the past was known for family interconnectivity and social integration, to the point that you would find relatives supporting afflicted family members. But now families disown their own children due to the hardship of life. And so there is only one option and that is to get the government to focus on supporting the families of the victims of terrorism. It is a terrorist victims right to have the support of the government.”
Abdullah Al Lami, an adviser to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, announced that a department of Social Welfare for Women had been established following the ratification of a law that called for the support of widows and women who are divorced. The mission of the new department is to receive requests for aid from widows, divorced women, and women who have been abandoned by their husbands, they will then be provided with subsidies.
Abdullah Al Lami confirmed that the Ministry had already allocated the first portion of this aid to those who qualify for it; providing 100,000 Iraqi dinars [IQD] to the women, in addition to IQD 15,000 for each child up until the fifth child. This results in a subsidy of up to IQD 175,000 per month. These subsidies aim at socially and economically supporting the women, and are a humanitarian mission aimed at compensating the [affected] women for the destitution, oppression, and neglect that they suffered.