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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Reporting from Iraq while female

via here
Because it is considered inappropriate for a woman to be out on her own and daring to ask questions, the man you're talking to -- bureaucrat, cleric, armed militiaman -- won't talk back to you. He'll look away when you talk to him, and will talk back to the floor, the wall or any man who happens to be with you -- usually your driver.

The woman is supposed to be chaperoned by a mahram, a close male relative, but the driver will do if no one else is available.

Driving around presents its own challenge. It is considered shameful for a man to be seen in the back seat of the car with a woman in front next to the driver. A male Iraqi colleague from Najaf pleaded with me to let him sit in the front as we left a meeting with tribal chiefs who came to the door to say goodbye.

"They will say he is not a man to let a woman sit in the front," he said. I stayed put and told him it's time the men got used to it.

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