Survey: Iraqis support women's rights

by HAMED AHMED, Associated Press Writer

Published 3:18 am PDT Monday, August 15, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A survey conducted by Iraq's constitutional drafting committee showed that the majority of those responding supported women's rights - as long as the freedoms are in accordance with Islam.

The survey released Sunday was conducted by a subcommittee of Iraq's constitutional committee that is drafting a new charter for the country. Though not designed with random sampling as are leading U.S. polls, the survey nonetheless was an attempt by the group to gauge public opinion in Iraq's chaotic environment on key topics in the charter.

Over 156,000 people submitted responses to a multiple-choice questionnaire that was distributed across the country. Participants turned the forms into some 1,000 boxes across the country, according to Adnan Mohammed Hassan, head of the committee that directed the survey.

Some 69 percent of respondents said they support women's rights, as long as the freedoms don't contradict Islam. Twelve percent said women should have the same rights as men. Some secular-minded women fear a loss of rights if conservative clerics heavily influence the new constitution.

Fifty-five percent said they favored a decentralized form of government, while 26 percent said they wanted a central government with a full powers. The question of how much power to grant to local governments has been a contentious subject among the country's leaders.

On the subject of the role of religion in the government, 28 percent said they want Islam to be the main source of legislation, while 25 percent said it should be the only source.

Several international polling agencies have measured Iraqi public opinion, but this survey is the first known government survey conducted since the country's new leaders were elected on Jan. 30.

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