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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Voices from Iraq: Essraa
BBCArabic.com spoke to six Iraqi women about their lives in the country following the war and their hopes for the future.

Noura:
Civil servant, 22

Samira:
Engineer, 31

Um Samir:
Housewife, 51
Essraa:
Student, 18

Fawzia:
Teacher, 36

Zeinab:
Student, 17

Essraa

The most important development to come out of the war was freedom.

We were denied it, especially freedom of thought. This to me is very important.

Another important consequence was our ability now to access modern means of communications, such satellite and computers.

Satellite television was banned under the previous regime because Saddam wanted to keep Iraq isolated from the rest of the world so he could have total control over Iraqis.

Computers were available before the war, but the prices were prohibitive.

Now, thanks to our ability to access the internet, we are able to contact our relatives abroad and to talk to them without fearing the eavesdropping of the "mukhabarat" (the previous regime's secret intelligence service).

On the financial side, my own income went up because my father's salary went up.

So, now I can afford to buy what I want, including new clothes, without difficulty.

In the past, buying a shirt would have cost the monthly salary of a civil servant.

We had to make do and bought things that we did not particularly like.

I used to feel sad for my parents, who were unable to provide us with things we needed. I saw the sadness in their eyes.

Lack of security is one of things that have marred our new experience.

For example, when we were taking our final exams, we heard an explosion near our school. One of the teachers fainted. This was scary.

I urge the young people of Iraq to work together and to be united to face the pressures and the crises.

Our Iraq is one Iraq. Our history is one history.

Let us all leave ignorance and separatism behind us and build a peaceful country. A country that respects the human rights of its citizens regardless of their origin or race.


Send us your comments on Essraa's views using the form below.

It's good that people can live freely, but its sad that the privileges I have been enjoying for my 19 years on this planet are only available to others now.
Amy Stubberfield, Croydon, Surrey

It is important for our students in the USA to be able to connect on a human level with students in Iraq. This young generation must build bridges of friendship, education and understanding, so that the hatred and fear that the governments have built up between the two nations does not persist. Iraq never attacked the USA, innocent civilians are being killed by American weapons, American soldiers are trained to kill the Iraqi enemy. We must not create a cycle of violence. I propose creating penpals between students and schools, and creating what they call sister schools, where we find similarities, and where we help those we have injured.
Vanessa Ruddy, Olympia, Washington, USA

The comments from women are important to hear. I have read the Iraqi blogs for months and the women echo what we have been reading. I think the Iraqis are finally beginning to believe that the coalition came to free them from a tyrant and to help them to build their own sovereign country. We are not there to colonise or steal their natural resources. We hope for friendly relations to allow for business and tourism to flourish. Iraqi oil will be sold through OPEC and Iraq will reap the benefit. Moderate believers in Islam are beginning to see the radical elements as their enemy too. I am hopeful they understand that the only change we wish to see in Iraq is for the people to experience liberty within their own culture.
Pat Golen, Franklin, USA

I particularly appreciate Esraa's comment on "one Iraq". The US media and politicians focus so much on the supposed ethnic and sectarian divisions in the country, while interviews with Iraqis themselves, throughout this conflict and occupation, have not reflected that. No doubt factions and tension among Iraqis exist, but the majority seem willing to unite and move on to rebuild the country. The US should follow suit and get over it already.
Allison McConnell, Washington, DC, USA

How about the tens of thousands of people that have died in Iraq the last year and a half? And the tens of thousands who died due to the embargo. Everyone is glad Saddam is gone, but to replace him with so much death is not the answer. I cannot judge your opinion, since you are in Iraq and I am not, but it is difficult for me to put your material gain above all who have lost their lives. Khalil
Khalil, New Haven, CT, USA

I applaud these women who are looking at the positive side of their situation. They have all spoken of unity and peace, of accepting each other and those around them as they are, no matter what their differences are. This is so important for Iraq to become what it deserves to be, a united, peaceful, democratic society. The history of Iraq is one of the richest and oldest in the world, it is a beautiful country that deserves to be a peace. I pray for you daily.
Jessica LeNormand, Houston, Texas

Reading these stories convinces me more and more that we are doing the right thing. WMD is not the issue. This is the reward, a free nation.
Roy, USA

I think Essraa is an enlightened young woman with love and hope in her heart for a better tomorrow in Iraq. I hope she is given the peace and security we all deserve and want to apologise to her as well as to all the other young people of Iraq that are coming of age amongst chaos. Our hearts and minds go out to you. You are not alone and we do not all wish for violence. All life is a cycle, one has to go through the worst to get to the best of what life has to offer. It will eventually get better my friend.
Tracy Oliver, LA, USA

Why are only middle or upper class women represented? I'm sure the ability to buy a computer, for example, is of little concern to a woman without running water in Sadr City, or one who is dodging US bombs in Fallujah.
Glenn May, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

I admire her courage and vision. It is wonderful that she has a chance to live with much more freedom. I feel for her country and all that they have been through and pray that they will find a lasting peace. It must be very difficult and frightening to go through such a major upheaval. I admire her very much.
Mike Burzan, USA





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