Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Impact of Social Conventions

Iraqi women are obliged to obey all social conventions, rather than being able to choose the ones that suit them.
By IWPR
In this programme, Wafaa al-Saghir reported on female university students in Baghdad, and the psychological impact of moving from rural areas to study in the capital, where they faced new and different customs. Tara Mohammed, a second-year student, pointed out that women were liable to adapt different social conventions in a new environment. Um Ali, the supervisor of the female student hostel, said that while initially women adhered to the customs they were used to, they began to behave differently over time and would adopt new fashions - even new ways of speaking. Social worker Nibras Adnan said these students faced a dilemma, caught between old and new conventions.



The show featured a vox pop in which women talked about the effects of social convention. Civil servant Kalthoum Ibrahim said she was not troubled by tradition, and could dress and behave as she liked. Nisreen Ali, also a civil servant, said the strictures of Islamic law or Sharia, for example the ban on travelling alone, were in women’s best interests. Student Bekhal Hassan took a contrary view, arguing that conventions limited woman's freedom.



Nuhad Kareem from the southern city of Kut reported on the practice of marriage between relatives such as cousins. Amir Salman said such marriages are a blessing as they strengthen relationships within extended families, although he admitted there were concerns that hereditary diseases could be passed on by such unions. Dr Awad Jawad, an expert on genetics, warned that such congenital illnesses could be risky, even fatal for the offspring of such marriages.

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