Sexism In Iraqi Kurdistan – Part 1


Following on from last week’s musings….

Considerably less “refreshed” than I was when I wrote my initial post on this subject, I’ve been mulling over the evening that started me thinking about the role and rights of women in Kurdistan. Whilst there are still reports of female genital mutilation and honour killings, I wanted to focus on the surface of the issue to begin with. What I have seen so far. I’m sure as I learn more about the place I will learn about the darker side to Iraqi Kurdistan, just as there is a darker side to all countries and regions of the world. However, until I see those goblins, I won’t try to imagine them.

I made the comment “I’d wager women are treated better here” in the Intro piece. I’m pleased no bookies took my money, because it was a statement of ignorance – I don’t know if women are treated better or worse than in the UK. Besides the cultures are very different, and I’m sure misogyny wears incomparable masks.

I met with Tony, a Baghdadi Christian, for a few drinks in the Sulemani Palace Hotel bar. He had a nargila, whilst I stuck to my Gauloises. We had a few beers, and after he’d twisted my (very maleable) arm into having a tequila, he said that he wanted to show me a place in Sarchenar, a well-off district 15 minutes away by taxi. “What sort of place?” “Somewhere where they have live singing, we can have a beer or two,” was his reply. And that is exactly what is was.

A three storey Chinese establishment, filled entirely with men, excepting the female singer on each floor and the waitresses.

We sat at a table next to a group of four men, two in a high state of excitement. The entertainment was provided by a man on keyboards, sometimes vocally backing an undeniably beautiful singer. There were about 30 men in the room, and to begin with it was mostly calm. As the tempo began to rise, so did the spirits of the audience. It was around this time that men started beckoning the singer to their tables, and requesting a “shout-out” for the price of 5,000 dinars (about £3). Pretty raunchy behaviour in this conservative society – in my mind at the time I was thinking of parallels in the UK. Specifically, lap dances. My pissed reasoning was that women are treated with greater respect here, in this case at least. I’m still not straight in my mind about this….any thoughts?

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One thought on “Sexism In Iraqi Kurdistan – Part 1”

  1. Verrry interesting. That was kind of my idea of sauciness as a teen, all quite innocent.

    I wonder what the flip side of this is? You know, sex tourism and so on, this must exist but probably very much underground, which means it is probably much much worse for the women. The only stuff reported from Iraq is small groups of women protesdting for prostitution to be banned. No real stories of what really goes on.

    I’m rambling.

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