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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June 2005, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
My Day in Iraq: Hairdresser
As part of the BBC News website's One Day in Iraq coverage on 7 June, we heard from people from all walks of life, all over the country.

Here you can read more from Um Mustafa, a hairdresser in Baghdad, who described the frustrations of her job.

I'm Um Mustafa. I work in a salon for the ladies. And how are things? There is no electricity, no water, the heat is killing us.

Customers, when they peer in, see only darkness. They shy away, and this is where we are supposed to make a living. What do you reckon - customers will hang around, waiting for the electricity to come back? No, they won't.

And what's the quintessential thing for a hairdresser? Electricity. To use a generator requires oil - and oil requires a budget, and I am not the owner so I can't buy that. I'm merely a hairdresser who works in a salon. The paradox is that when the owner comes and sees that there are no customers she refuses to pay us our salaries.

This is the situation. There is no security, threats are flying: give up the profession or else. Thank God, our salon has not been targeted and we haven't received any threats yet - but that doesn't mean we should not fear for ourselves. I mean, what would it cost to throw a bomb in our direction?

But at the same time, what other option do we have? It is simply a risk we have to take. It is our livelihood.

'I have to survive'

I'm talking about Iraqi women as a whole. Most of our men are sitting at home. My husband goes out looking for a job every day in vain. Every day, he takes his car, and tries to find work, in vain.

A shop destroyed by a blast in Baghdad
Um Mustufa is fearful her shop could be targeted, like this one
This is the kind of life Iraqi women are leading right now. I have two kids who are dependent on me, and I'm pregnant, yet I'm on my feet all day until I ache all over. I have to survive, I have to survive.

Let's talk about water. There is none, be it winter or summer. Do you know what we ask our customers? We ask that they buy their water if they want us to do their hair. Can you imagine that? But these are just the conditions in which we have to work these days in Baghdad.

We're asking the new Iraqi government to provide us with three things: security, electricity, and water. We could be happy with these three things.

Hear Um Mustufa describe her daily life


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