With plenty of pop music and 'girl power', Salaam Dunk delivers a tale of hope and inspiration, courtesy of one winning group of Iraqi women basketball players at the American University in Sulaimani, Iraq. The women come from all over the country to attend this prestigious university, but many cannot tell family back home that they go to an 'American' college. The team itself is a 'mini Iraq'—comprised of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Christians. Through interviews and personal video diaries, we learn about the women, their families and their experiences since the US invasion in 2003. Their narratives provide a rare look at recent events in Iraq with stories of loss and choices that have to be made. Education is the difference between the past and the future for these women and basketball becomes a key part of that education. Their team is like a family and the game is like life. And as their coach Ryan says: sports teaches fight and resilience, but who knows fight and resilience better than these women?
Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the deleterious impacts of the 2003 US invasion and its divisive aftermath, particularly on minorities and women and girls. Human Rights Watch's most recent report, At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years after the US-Led Invasion, calls on the government to protect the rights of vulnerable groups and to amend its penal code and all other laws that discriminate against women and girls.