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Iraqi Women's Groups Call for Change in Government - 2002-11-21

Representatives from a variety of Iraqi women's groups in the West held a conference in London Thursday to call for a change of government in Baghdad.

Many of the women told stories of what they had endured in Iraq - stories of torture and rape and of family members killed by Iraqi authorities.

They were speaking at a London news conference organized by the International Alliance for Justice and the Open Democracy group. Though each woman had a different story to tell, they had in common a belief that the plight of women in Iraq is not well known in the West and that the time has come to end the regime of Saddam Hussein that has tyrannized them for so many years.

Safia al Souhail is from the Paris-based International Alliance for Justice. Her father, an Iraqi tribal leader, was assassinated in Beirut by people believed to be linked to the Iraqi regime. But she says it is a mistake to believe that men are the only ones who suffer in Iraq.

"Although men receive the biggest share of the tyrant's brutality in my country, women end up suffering the consequences," she said. "You can hardly find a women in Iraq whose husband, brother, son or family member has not suffered or been killed at the hands of this regime, including Saddam Hussein's own daughters."

What Safia al Souhail and her colleagues want is Saddam Hussein to step down and allow for peaceful change in Iraq. But none of the women gathered at the London rally really believed that would happen. If Saddam Hussein does not leave peacefully, they said, he should be forced to leave.