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A widow of Iraq

By KJ Mullins     Feb 5, 2008 in Lifestyle
In a country where men dominate how do the widows survive raising young families? That's an issue that Iraqi women have been having to face since the war with the United States broke out. This is the story of one such woman, Teeba Jaweed.
Teeba Jaweed's life changed on January 13, 2007. An employee of her husbands was banging on the door.
"Your husband's been shot," he said.
Her mother stayed behind watching over Teeba's three daughters as she rushed to her husband's side. Inside his grocery store Teeba found the lifeless body of the man she loved. His two brothers lay close by in a pool of blood. She screamed for help. It was too late, her world was changed.
At just thirty Teeba had become a widow with three young children to support.
There are an estimated 1.5 million widows in Iraq. Many of those have lost their husbands to the violence that war brings into a country.
Teeba and her children fled their neighbourhood after the death of her husband. She was a Sunni and the militia that had killed her husband was Shiite. It was a wise move, the neighbourhood quickly was taken over by Shiites.
Teeba went to live in her mother's home. Her brother supports them with his earnings of $250 a month.
Hanaa Edward , the head of the Iraq Al Amal Association said that 11 percent of the more than 20 million families in Iraq are now headed by single or widowed mothers. Widows who receive state aid get about $40 a month to take care of their families. It's not enough for one to survive on let alone a young family.
Many women have had to turn to the street begging to survive.
In December Teeba had a pain in her stomach. The doctors say it's her heart. The tricuspid valve isn't working the right way and the young mother needs to have a surgery to correct the problem. Her liver is swollen and her heart is now enlarged.
There are few cardiac surgeons in Iraq now. She needs to travel abroad to have the surgery. She will die without it.
"It's enough that they lost their father. Do they need to be robbed of their mother, too?" she asked.
"They tell me, 'Mama, please do the operation. Our father is already dead,'" said Jaweed, still wearing black to mourn her husband. "But I've lost all faith. I'm living on pills, and I cannot move much or my heartbeat rises."
While a study by the Iraqi Family Health Survey in collaboration with the World Health Organization puts the figure at 155,000 Iraqis slain in the war since 2003 other studies have a much higher and sadder estimate on Iraqi deaths.
The assassinations and suicide bombings that plaque the country have left a nation of women and children alone without bread winners to survive.
Teeba is tired. She no longer is able to wake in the morning to feed her girls and take them to school. She doesn't have the energy to play with them. She watches a video of better times, a year or so ago her husband was with her.
Violence is lessening in Iraq dropping to 2005 levels. That doesn't change Teeba's life. Her husband Dhia Sabar will never walk through the door again after a long day at work.
"Dhia won't come back," she said. "What hope do I have?"
When the hope has left a person what is left?
More about Teeba jaweed, Widow, Iraq