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A Veiled Sense of Security: Strategies toward the Deconstruction of Islamist Violence against Women in Iraq

College of William and Mary
Publication Date
  • Islamology
  • Gender Studies
  • Military Intelligence And Security Service
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Psychology
  • Religious Science


Often justified in the name of religion, Islamist violence against women in Iraq is a prevalent and omnipresent concern. This thesis explores the escalating issues with regard to both physical and psychological or legally-sanctioned violence against women in Iraq, exploring the reasons for its occurrence and working to deconstruct its religious rationalizations. The thesis also offers an analysis of the Islamic sources -- the Qur'an, Sunna, and hadith -- that relies on strategies such as linguistic and historical contextualization to demonstrate that Islam's intended view of women was actually quite progressive. Many more conservative Islamic interpretations or arguments in favor of female subservience are reliant on carefully chosen Qur'anic verses for legitimacy. Devoid of context and a thorough explanation of each Arabic term's array of potential meanings, these arguments fail to adequately portray Islam's progressive potential with regard to gender relations. Ultimately, the ensuing work seeks to make the policy recommendation that, at least with respect to Iraqi women, the key to liberation in the post-Saddam era is not through secular strategies or solutions, but instead, through non-secular arguments and interpretations, indeed through Islam itself.

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