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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

New Cultures Adjusted

New cultural behaviors appear to be adjusted within the Iraqi society. While the overthrown of Saddam’s Regime in 2003 made a lot expect Iraq to enjoy prosperity and welfare, new practices show to be the most devastating social diseases. Such practices that overwhelm the Iraq’s environment are:

• Mendicity

• Street Kids

• Bribes

• Persecution

Mendicity or begging is the most wide spread behavior that turned to be a culture we are accepting in our society and seeing as part of our daily life. Dozens of persons spend long periods of times adopting this kind of profession that costs them longer hours of work per day than regular public employees and private servants do. It becomes normal to see all kinds of groups, old men, women, children, handicaps, teenagers and others, jumping on your car begging for money showing no care of the unbearable hot firey sunny weather.

Street children, on the other hand, become another phenomenon in Iraq. In every intersection of Baghdad streets or elsewhere you may find kids moving around the cars and by-passers practicing begging in a disguised method sometimes. They may appear to sell some unworthy stuff, e.g. gum, pieces of chocolates, cookies, etc., while buyers would give more money than the stuff costs without taking that stuff just because people have adapted to understand the disguised method of begging. The most vulnerable group of such kind of street children is the girls. Girls are exposed more than boys to mistreatment and harassment by car-drivers, walkers, traffic officers and even policemen. As those children are of elementary school ages, they, instead of being at school, spend the long hours of the day in the streets. They often have two shifted begging job during the day. In other words, they work in their profession as disguised beggars in one neighborhood during the morning, and move to another area in the afternoon till evening. Thus, girls are exposed to all kinds of misbehavior and lack of directives in their lives. They become easily attracted to the track of prostitution and even stealing professions in the future as they receive no guardians, advice, codes of conduct or principles of being good actors in their society. These children are sponsored and trained for such profession by their own biological parents, kidnappers, human trafficking employers, or claimed parents or the children themselves who are left alone due to the loss of their parents as a result of Iraq’s wars and conflicts. Consequently, the trend of street children seem to be a very professional organization for certain reasons: selecting the areas where to practice the profession, selecting the ages of the children, trained on certain behavior of stirring pity and empathy of others.

Bribe, on the other hand, is one of the communicable social diseases that grows as fast as nothing can chase it. It became a normal practice that people see as a part of the Iraqi culture. For example, if an Iraqi citizen has a paper work in any of the government institutions, s/he should go to that institution on daily basis fearing of having their papers lost in the long routine procedures. So, the best and fastest solution to get your file done is to use the vehicle of bribes (or as people embellish it as reward for having the job done). People find an excuse for this practice and they adapt themselves to it as cultural segment that satisfies both the citizen’s needs and the employee’s greed.

Another factor of the social deterioration is the persecution in the Iraqi society. Women are the major social group that are vulnerable to this act. A large number of women in Iraq suffer of their loss of partners, male guardians like fathers or relatives. This led to have women be victims of social oppression and mistreatment by their family members such as brothers or sons. They turn to be scapegoats of life pressures for such members. Hence, women are exposed to violence acts against them, deprivation of privacy, joy, education, and financial support, as well as enforced to be maids for their family members for one reason: avoiding mistreatments. The scope of their lives look to be very limited; they are hidden emprisoners of their families’ rules and instructions. The social environment and traditions of their social class, as most of them relate to low and middle class, prevent them to be independent or even seeking a way for a better life and choices. Such women turn to act as care-takers of those members and fulfill their house needs of maintenance.

In return, the government along with NGOs have been aware of such problems in the Iraqi society, and several attempts and initiatives have been taken to enhance the situation and improve the life of people. However, the reality seems to be tremendously less respondent to such efforts. Awareness and education are two columns which are essential to solve these problems. In addition, collaboration and coordination of efforts between the different government institutions and the NGOs working in Iraq would be a successful step towards saving lives and capacities. The necessity to serious actors is urged on all levels: individual, groups, agency, government, and international community. The efforts can take various shapes: short-run projects, long-term initiatives, lectures, establishing community house in each neighborhood for education and awareness and discussion of different problems, media shows, radio programs, posters and other visual aids, international efforts embedded in the society and a lot else. Efforts of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Provincial Councils, UNICEF and Integrity Commission need to be directed correctly with strategic policy and social reform approaches to seek solutions for such deeply inherited defects in Iraq's society.