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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 06:18 GMT 07:18 UK
My day in Iraq: Social worker
On Friday, 7 April, the BBC News website is asking people across Iraq how they live their lives.

Here, Samiah Ilamdi, 40, a social worker from Amadia, near Dohuk, describes her work at a shelter for women who have suffered from domestic abuse.


I'm normally at work by 8am at the Women's Rehabilitation and Preparation centre in Dohuk that I manage.

Peshmerga fighter
As the wife of a peshmerga leader, Samiah lived a hard life in the mountains

The big problem here is that traditionally women do not have rights.

Many women are prisoners within their family and are not allowed to be human.

Some women have been killed by their relatives for the crime of falling in love.

Religion makes big problems, it doesn't allow women to live their lives and they have to live like a servant.

For some, if they don't cover their face, they aren't allowed to go to college, to socialise, to choose a husband by themself or even to have a job and many suffer from violence.

Women in Iraq don't get to plan for the future - their family plan their lives for them.

MORE DAILY LIVES
In Kurdistan we have made many changes in the law to make it a better place for women to live compared to the rest of Iraq.

At the shelter we try to give women a choice.

We offer them refuge and a place to think.

We can help them with a lawyer to divorce their husband. There is also a teacher to help with education - many of the women are illiterate.

There is training available as well as help in finding a job.

They also get taught the law so they realise the modern role of women in society.

We also do this work in schools, allowing young women to protect themselves by knowing their rights.

On the run

I have a girl, aged 10, and two boys, 8 and 6. My husband is very supportive now about me working, but I had to make him understand. I take my responsibilities at home seriously - I always cook my family their meals.

After my father's home in Kurdistan was blown-up three times, my family now all live in exile in Europe and the US. I am the only one left.

Three times I have been in prison. They used to beat us very badly and try to make us sign confessions and ask us why we were not in the Ba'ath party

My husband is now a politician, but he used to be a leader with the Peshmerga, for 30 years he lived in the mountains fighting Saddam's regime for 33 years.

Saddam put a price on my husband's head many, many times, but they never got him.

We used to live on the run all the time, living a hard life in the mountains.

Three times I have been in prison. They used to beat us very badly and try to make us sign confessions and ask us why we were not in the Ba'ath party.

But now life is better.

I hope that Iraq can grow without Saddam and his party or any terrorists.

I hope that women in Kurdistan and Iraq can help to rebuild Iraq alongside their brothers and make their own decisions.





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