Born and bred in Basrah, Abrar Wadi is a Civil Engineer and a feminist activist. Abrar takes pride in her heritage and activism as they come in regular friction with patriarchal societal traditions and taboos. Born during the years of UN Sanctions, she was a child in 2003 who became addicted to the Iraqi flat bread (Khubez) during the scarcity of food among other essentials. Her map crosses uncomfortable tensions between the two houses that belonged to her family and her father’s second wife, and her activism as part of the feminist Tishreen Movement in Basrah in 2019 and 2020.
In our neighbourhood, houses were scattered in the land, it was not a heavily built-up area. In 2004, the shelling and bombing of tribal retaliation against the foreign troops reached our area, a lot of families felt their houses were exposed and left to a different neighbourhood. We moved into another house in between a cluster of other houses and had to change the type of roof we had then. It used to be the traditional blockwork (called traditionally Aagada) and we had to change it to reinforced concrete. We are a large family; my father has two wives and a large number of children from each wife, therefore we needed two large houses next to each other. We opened a doorway between them during the sectarian violence so that we could avoid leaving one house to access the other.
On making the Tishreen Revolution in 2019 truly female, Abrar recalls:
To begin with we saw male colleagues from the university dominating the revolution, even the rights they were calling for were patriarchal and masculine and would have served men more than women. We organized more than one march in the centre of Basrah, in an area called Jubaiyla, specifically in the main square (Bahriya Square), led by female activists. Even the slogans we were carrying were calling for female equal rights. I felt this was a kind of a mutation in our way of life. We endured a lot of abuse and harassment from men in the city. Culturally what we were doing was not acceptable of course, but we did it anyway. All girls and women who were students in high schools or university would leave their houses in the morning telling their parents they will be going to study, but they ended up in the square protesting.