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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
The extraordinary lives of Iraq's women
antoinette's family

It is not often that we get to hear the personal stories of ordinary Iraqi women living under occupation. Earlier this year, however, eight women were asked to record their daily lives in a series of photo diaries.

The extraordinary results of the Open Shutters Iraq project are now being exhibited in central London.

Here, are two of those photo diaries.

Lulua's bodyguards

Lulua used to be a vet. One evening, on her way to work, she was kidnapped, taken to the mountains and tortured for several days.

When she eventually returned home she found herself excluded from her family and a husband who could not accept that she had not been raped.

"A few blocks away, I saw my husband. He didn't hug me and the look on his face terrified me. When I got home, my mother collapsed. 'Did they rape you?' everyone asked; everyone but my husband. 'No.' All that mattered was that the family's honour had been preserved," writes Lulua.


Antoinette lives in Mosul. She is a Christian and is finding it increasingly difficult to belong to a minority.

She moved from Baghdad to be with her husband. Years later, after having children, she went back to university to study law. The US-led invasion coincided with her graduation. Her children are by far the most important thing in her life, and she struggles to maintain a sense of normality for them.

"I am torn. My life and that of my kids is in Mosul - our house, our memories, everything that we know and that means anything to us," writes Antoinette. "But am I not being unfair to them if I choose to stay? And if I left, where would I go? What kind of future can I possibly offer them? I live in constant anxiety and terror."

The Open Shutters: Iraq exhibition, which is presented by Index on Censorship, runs from 2 October, Queens Walk, South Bank, London.

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