The number of widows in Iraq has steadily risen over the past several years since the war first began. A trailer park in Baghdad named Al Waffa, otherwise known as the "Park of the Grateful," houses approximately 750 people. There are an estimated 740,000 widows in Iraq.
Approximately one out of 11 Iraqi women ages 15-80 are widows. Many of these women have had to resort to begging, prostitution, or even temporary marriages. These marriages, sanctioned by Shiite tradition to get aid from the government, are arranged between widows and men with power and ties to the government.
As the war continues, the Iraqi government says the needs for help exceeds their capabilities. Only about one in six of the widows in Iraq are currently receiving state aid. Many widows say the only way to get any kind of help is if they have political ties or agree to the previously mentioned marriages.
Samira al-Mosawi, chairwoman of the women's affair committee in Parliament calls this system "blackmail," saying widows don't need the kind of support that comes with the marriages, but a "permanent solution."
Mazin al-Shihan, director of the Baghdad Displacement Committee, laughed at the suggestion that money go directly to the widows. "If we give the money to the widows, they will spend it unwisely because they are uneducated and don't know about budgeting."