“Freedom is a treasure that only those who lose it can know”: a spatiotemporal exploration of 22 Iraqi women’s interlegalities


  • Katri Gadd Institute for Human Rights, Åbo Akademi University
  • Faleha Ubeis


In this article, we discuss the spatiotemporal interlegalities of 22 women living in Iraq, understood as an emerging legal landscape characterised by legal and normative entanglements rather than parallel systems of laws and morals. Iraqi women are situated at the intersections of the coexisting legal spaces and stratifications of various scales and multiple normative orders that have been deeply embedded in Iraqi religious and tribal traditions throughout time. It is at these intersections that experiences of non-freedom and struggles for freedom are intimately felt and possible contradictions among the multiple legal spaces and normative orders encountered. Herein, we assess women’s opportunities to negotiate the boundaries of their spaces, their abilities to govern those spaces, and the constraints they encounter on their routes to freedom. We used a map metaphor to elucidate the women’s processes for finding their way. Women’s freedom in the Iraqi context is complex, indicative of multi-layered processes of negotiation within the legally pluralistic landscape. The concept of interlegalities is a useful tool for conceptualising the multifaceted interconnections in the legal landscape of Iraqi women. The Middle East legal geography has not been widely examined, but the special characteristics of the Iraqi context regarding the interplay among legal spaces and normative orders are essential for contributing to legal geography discussions, as some theoretical premises are unsuitable for application to contexts with pluralist legal systems that lack democratic traditions.

Research Papers



How to Cite

Gadd, K., & Ubeis, F. (2023). “Freedom is a treasure that only those who lose it can know”: a spatiotemporal exploration of 22 Iraqi women’s interlegalities. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 201(1), 79–93. https://doi.org/10.11143/fennia.120307