|Widows march in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, 2004. Andrea Bruce / NOOR
Draped in black abayas, over 500 women, mostly widows, led a 2004 march in Sadr City against the violence that plagued their neighborhood and country. Suicide bombings and mass graves were becoming common, and people were disappearing. Even so, Iraqis were testing their newfound freedom to protest. But a protest led by women, voicing their hatred of all violence caused by all sides, was rare.
The water they sprayed in the air created beautiful, faint rainbows but offered little relief from the mid-afternoon July heat. “The people who pay for the violence are the women,” said a woman named Khafaji. Her husband and brother had been both killed that year.
Their chants were fierce and angry; then celebratory; then exhausted. It was as if discovering their voices, and then using them, made the cost so much clearer.