Tough road for Iraq’s female candidates in May 12 elections

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BAGHDAD: Iraqi women running for parliament this month are undaunted, despite many challenges they face ahead of the May 12 elections — including unprecedented smear campaigns complete with sex videos that have forced some to withdraw from the race.

Many see the vote as a chance to push women’s issues to the fore in this traditionally male-dominated society.

There are concerns that women’s rights are being eroded, 15 years after the US-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein with hopes of bringing democracy to a nation long staggering under wars, oppression and countless economic and social problems.

Nearly 2,600 female candidates are vying for a quarter — a quota allotted to women under the constitution — of parliament’s 329 seats in these elections, the fourth since Saddam’s 2003 ouster.

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