Iraq’s three recent wars and the sectarian violence that followed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 had a deep psychological impact on Hadeel Abdelhameed as a young scholar in Baghdad.
She and her family managed to find refuge in Australia in August 2011, where she started a new life in research and education.
In commemoration of World Refugee Day, observed on June 20, Al-Fanar Media presents Abdelhameed’s story as the first in a series of articles on female academics who rebuilt their lives after fleeing from conflict zones.
In 2010, Abdelhameed had just received a master’s degree in contemporary American drama from the University of Baghdad and started teaching there in its College of Languages.
In a recent Zoom interview, she told Al-Fanar Media how she faced several difficulties during her work as a faculty member. These included gender discrimination, the lack of academic freedom, inadequate facilities and supplies, and the constant risk of violence and explosions, which frequently hit the Iraqi capital at that time.
She had already felt the trauma of three wars, starting with the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988), which led to her father’s imprisonment in Iran for 20 years. Then came the hardships of the first Gulf War, which followed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003.
She felt she was living in a state of “tremendous shock” and constant fear.