- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2006

Life is never easy in a war-torn country, but Iraqi women seem to be suffering the most.

“The abduction of women and children has become a lucrative business for gangs in many parts of Iraq and particularly in Baghdad,” wrote the Middle East Times.

Women are an easy target explains the newspaper because, unlike men, they don’t carry guns. Families respond quickly to ransom demands for fear of harming their loved one and to protect their reputation, a very important matter for Arab families. Families also prefer to deal directly with kidnappers because police are sometimes suspected of taking part of the abduction.

Estimates are hard to verify, but according to one study, about 2,000 women have been abducted in Iraq over the last three years. Women have turned into “cheap and exchangeable goods” in Iraq, according to the Women’s Freedom Organization.

Sometimes however, women get special treatment: Iraqi women now have their own woman-only gas station. Why?

To spare them the uncomfortable queuing that could sometimes take two days in sweltering heat (car AC is a luxury). “Every day, nearly 500 women come to fill their cars — or those of their husbands. While waiting, they get out and chat to pass the two or three hours that it takes to be served.”

For many, it sounds crazy that waiting for three hours to fuel your car is a special treatment, but this is the daily reality in Iraq. Let’s hope this reality doesn’t become the norm.

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