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MADRE and one of our sister organizations, the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), are responding to the crisis of honor killings by establishing "safe houses" for Iraqi women.
Laila is a 24-year-old Iraqi woman who was a soldier in the Iraqi army. Two years ago, Laila was raped by a US soldier with whom she was stationed. She knew she could not return to her family "disgraced," for fear of being killed, but she had nowhere else to turn. Fortunately, a cousin of hers saw a flier for the OWFI women's shelter on the back of Equality, OWFI's main publication. Laila escaped to the shelter. She received medical care and peer counseling from other women who have survived violence.
Laila became part of a network of women who understand that their right to a life free of violence does not only mean the right to live free of rape and domestic abuse: it also means having the right to live free of war, religious coercion, and military occupation. With OWFI's support, Laila decided to pursue her interest in journalism. Today, she is a regular contributor to Equality, and as more women arrive at OWFI's Baghdad shelter each day, Laila is there to greet them and extend the circle of support.
Stories like Laila's are made possible by the support of MADRE members. Please join us in working together with women in Iraq who are struggling to secure a peaceful and just future for themselves and their daughters.