Women’s Rights in Iraq
The Passports Officer refused to accept my papers to renew my passport because I was not veiled in the photo - a serious precedent and the most dangerous of indicators in Najaf Governorate.
I am an Iraqi citizen. On Sunday morning July 5, 2015 I went to the Passports Department of Najaf Nationality Directorate to renew my passport. I was accompanied by my father and had with me all the needed documents along with the photos and the application to renew my passport.
I went to the verification officer in order to facilitate the processing of the papers, but he refused to do it. The only reason was that I was not veiled in the photo! He refused to take my papers even if he could see that my ordinary photo without a veil was on all my documents, including on my nationality certificate that was renewed six month ago by the same Najaf Nationality Directorate.
I did not lose hope and I repeated the process. I went to the Director, Colonel Ali Khazal Abdel Kareem, who wrote on my paper that the necessary actions should be taken to process the issuing of the passport. Then I returned to the same counter (19) but the officer strongly insisted that the papers will not be processed with these photos. He even refused to write an answer to the Director and asked me: Where do you live?
I answered: I live in Iraq!
I then went to the Director of the Passports Department and told him about the repeated refusal of the Officer, while my father told him that this was a personal freedom and that this is against the law and the constitution. The Director did not have a satisfactory answer and I concluded that the Director, who was a colonel, did not have authority over a lieutenant within his department, and that he was not able to carry out his tasks and responsibilities towards a transaction that was being processed for an Iraqi citizen, just because she was not veiled in her photo.
I felt for the first time that I was not in Iraq and I realized then that I do not even have the least of my human rights that are guaranteed by the constitution of my country, but are actually on hold.
The Iraqi constitution stipulates that we are free in our thoughts, consciences, beliefs, affiliations and expression of our opinions, movement and travel, but what is happening now is that we are being deprived of our basic rights. In addition, we are being forced and coerced and our dignity, rights and humanitarian values are not protected.
I approached all concerned parties and the concerned people and the advocates of the constitution and the human rights in Iraq, to follow-up on these flagrant violations and find solutions and remedies, and hold accountable everyone who causes a violation of women rights and human rights.