By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraqi women are dealing with worsening harassment in the workplace and sexual abuse in general, according to statements made by Iraqi members of parliament and media reports.
On Jan. 15, 2017, parliament member Aaliyah Nasif revealed that she has been receiving complaints of sexual harassment of female employees in a number of ministries, while on Jan. 17, Education Minister Mohammad Iqbal dismissed the director-general of the ministry for soliciting sexual favors in exchange for a promotion.
On Jan. 17, a Finance Ministry employee told Al-Aalem newspaper that her division director trapped her in the “vault,” the place where documents are archived, after she refused to become his secretary, a position that would have entailed harassment by him.
Kurdistan Alliance parliamentarian Rizan Sheikh Dalir, who was interviewed in the report, told Al-Monitor, “Women are perceived as inferiors by the male politicians. This is why even women MPs had to deal with harassment during parliamentary sessions,” adding, “They would bully a woman MP by saying that there are no laws that prohibit polygamy, which is derogatory to women.”
In a Jan. 14 article for al-Hewar al-Motamaden, writer Dawood Salman al-Kaabi argued, “It is possible that MP Aaliyah Nasif, who blew the whistle on the sexual harassment of female employees, had been subject to it herself by some MPs with whom she had altercations.”
While there are no statistics available for the past year on harassment in Iraqi society, a report published in September 2015 by a conference of Iraqi civil society organizations revealed that 77% of Iraqi women have been victims of sexual harassment.