On March 20, 2003, a US-led international coalition invaded Iraq.  To justify targeting Iraq, the Bush Administration devised the principle of “pre-emptive strike” (Saddam Hussein was accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction and of hiding Al Qaeda militants, [al-qa’idah]).  In the words of George Bush, the military operation “Iraqi Freedom” would fight terrorism and bring freedom, prosperity, and secularism.

In these fifteen years, Iraqis have witnessed the 2003 American-led invasion, an all-out civil war from 2006 to 2007 and the takeover of much of western Iraq in 2014 by Isis. Violence over the past fifteen years has taken the lives of some 268,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians and the so-called liberation of Mosul caused thousands of victims. At the same time, a vibrant civil society has defended human rights with nonviolent campaigns, often ignored by the international community. The resilience of Iraqi women who have learned how to survive often goes unnoticed amid such political turmoil, destruction, and death.

Fifteen years after the American invasion, four women – a lawyer, an activist, an engineer and a mother – tell how they live in Iraq today, how their lives changed after 2003. All have suffered – whether Arab, Kurd or Yazidi– and all today, struggle in silence, in a patriarchal society, imbued with sectarianism and intolerance that is a direct result of the policies implemented in these years.