THE NEW YORK TIMES
Women at a trailer camp for widows in Baghdad celebrated a resident’s remarriage.
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Published: November 24, 2011
BAGHDAD — Noria Khalaf giggled and then, embarrassed, covered her smile with a fold of her black robes. Yes, she said, she would like to marry again. It had been four years since her husband died, and her children needed a father.
Andrea Bruce for The New York Times
Noria Khalaf, widowed in 2007, comforted one of her six children. More Photos »
Finding a good man in Baghdad these days is a challenge. Not only is nearly every trailer in this dusty government-run camp on the capital’s outskirts occupied by war widows like her, with nary a man in sight, but across Iraq women now outnumber men.
Some widows ask their brothers to bring friends by the camp, one of two packed trailer camps for widows in Baghdad. But that is not often successful.
The problem is that widows do not make appealing brides, say the women themselves and nongovernmental organizations that assist them.
“Maybe a young woman with only one or two kids can marry again,” Ms. Khalaf said with a sigh; she has six children.
Widows are not a new social problem in Iraq, of course. The war with Iran in the 1980s left tens of thousands of women widowed. Each new calamity that followed created more: the 1991 war with the United States, the failed Shiite uprising that followed, the repressions against Kurds.
And the numbers of widows in Iraq, or as American aid programs prefer to call them, “female heads of households,” increased substantially after the invasion in 2003 and in the years of violence that followed.
The Iraqi Ministry of Planning estimates that about 9 percent of the country’s women, or about 900,000, are widows. A separate government agency, the Ministry of Women, issued a statement in June putting the figure at one million.
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Yasir Ghazi contributed reporting.
- You: Iraq hit by series of fatal bombings (guardian.co.uk)
- Iraq invasion led to spike in widows, report concludes (ctv.ca)