Tag Archive 'Iraq'

Jul 16 2010

Baghdad girl – kidnapped and raped by three US-Soldiers in February 2010

Published by under Iraq,Personal Stories

Baghdad girl – kidnapped and raped by three US-Soldiers in February 2010

“I was in the garden with my younger sister, we were washing the clothes. Three Soldiers came into our garden, as I saw them coming to our house holding guns I got scared. My little sister started crying, I was holding her. She was screaming.

My parents came outside, asking the soldiers what they wanted. One of the soldiers pointed a gun at my father, while the other one was pulling me by my arms and telling me I should come with them. I asked them why. My dad told them, you can´t take her with you, she is innocent she is just a young schoolgirl please don´t take her to prison she never did anything, I swear to god she is innocent. My mom started crying, then.

They told my parents if they move while we are leaving they will shoot my younger sister. The soldier pushed me, dragged me by my arms, it broke my heart as I was hearing the hysterical crying of my mother. I was scared, I did not knew where they will take me, what do they want from me? They pushed me into a car. Inside the car one of the soldiers touched my breasts, I said “please stop this, what do you want from me?”

We got out somewhere, I didnt knew this place. We got into a dark room, it was looking scary. One of the soldiers started beating me, I was screaming and asked him why he is doing that to me, the other one was ripping of my clothes, beating me. Then they raped me. All three of them raped me in all possible ways. After they finished I was laying on the ground, my whole body was paining.

They beat me and strangled me while they raped me. I was begging them please let me go, they were laughing and spitting on me. Then they raped me again. They were beating me, I thought I would die, I thought they would kill me. After some time they left the place, left me into my own puddle of blood. My whole body was paining and it wasnt easy to move, but i realised i was alive, I tried to find a way out of this dark scary room.

When I got out it was already night. I didnt knew where I was. I was looking for a car to take me back to my place. A middle aged women and her son took me to my home. When I arrived home, with my clothes burst, my mom was crying and shouting hysterically “you see what they did with her? You see what they used her for? They brutally raped her and then throw her away like a dog!!”

I started crying…”Please Mom help me……i am so ashamed of myself..please help me please make me forget all this…..” I told the story to my parents. They decided to report it to the police the next day. I could not sleep the whole night. I was scared and my body was still paining, i was wondering how can another human do such horrible things to someone? What did i ever do to them?

The next day we went to the police. As i told them my story in tears, the only thing they had to say was ” That is very normal in war, at least they let you live” I can´t describe what I felt in that moment, but I was shocked. My father started shouting, he wanted to beat the police officers, the security hold him back, punched him in the face and told him if he wouldnt stop they will send him to prison. My mom was walking away with me, both of us were crying.

I don´t understand this cruel world anymore. I just want to die. Why is no one helping me? Why do people who commit such things don’t get jail?

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Jun 18 2010

Sex In The US Army (video)

Published by under Iraq

Statistics show that nearly one in three female soldiers are sexually assaulted whilst serving their country. For some the consequences are tragic. One victim’s family is determined to find the truth.
Just 5 weeks into LaVena Lynn Johnson’s Iraq tour, the 19-year-old was found dead in a contractor’s tent. It was concluded to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But LaVenas family believes she was raped and murdered by another soldier and that the army is trying to cover it up.

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Jun 17 2010

Nine year old iraqi girl raped by american soldiers

Published by under Iraq,Personal Stories

A nine-year-old girl was abducted from the stairs of the building where she lived, taken to an abandoned building nearby, and raped. A family friend who saw the young girl immediately following the rape informed international human rights groups.

The report quotes the family friend, “She was sitting on the stairs, here, at 4:00 p.m. It seems to me that probably they hit her on the back of the head with a gun and then took her to [a neighboring] building. She came back fifteen minutes later, bleeding [from the vaginal area]. [She was still bleeding two days later, so] we took her to the hospital.”

A human rights group saw a copy of the medical report by the U.S. military doctor who treated the baby girl six days later. The report documented bruising in the vaginal area, a posterior vaginal tear, and a broken hymen. Lieutenant Monica Casmaer, a physician’s assistant attached to a U.S. military unit, examined the nine year old girl. with the pediatrician. She described the injuries as fairly severe, especially given the time that had elapsed before she was examined.

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Jun 17 2010

16 year old Iraqi girl raped in prison

Published by under Iraq,Personal Stories

“I was visiting one of my relatives, and suddenly the American forces attacked the home and started to inspect it. They found some light weapons. So, they arrested all people in the home including me. I tried to explain to the interpreter, who was accompanying the American patrol, that I am just a visitor. However, my trials failed. I cried, begged them, and I lost consciousness from fear when they took me to Abu Ghraib prison. Nadia continues “they put me alone in a dark and dirty prison cell. I expected that I will be released soon, especially when the investigation proved that I hadn’t committed a crime”

Nadia elaborated while tears poured down her cheek, a telling sign of just how much she has suffered. “The first day was so burdensome. The cell was malodorous, humid and dark, and this condition increased the fear inside me more and more. The laughs of the soldier outside the cell made me even more scared. I was afraid of what would happen to me. For the first time I felt that I was in a difficult gridlock and that I had entered an unknown world that I would not get out of.

In the middle of these different feelings, I heard a voice for an American soldier woman who was speaking in an Arabic language. She said to me: “I didn’t imagine that the weapons’ traders in Iraq are women.” When I started to explain to her the circumstances of the situation, she beat me cruelly. I cried and shouted “By Allah! I am oppressed, By Allah! I am oppressed”

The soldier showered me with insults in a way that I have never thought possible or that I would ever be subjected to under any circumstances. Then, she started to deride me saying that she was monitoring me all the day via the satellite, and that they can track their enemies even inside their own bedrooms by American technology.

Then she laughed and said: “I was watching you when you were making love with your husband.” I replied in a confused voice “But I am not married”. She beat me for more than one an hour and she forced me to drink a glass of water, and I knew later that they put a drug in it. I regained my consciousness after two days to find myself naked. I knew immediately that I have lost something that all the laws in the earth will not be able to return it to me once again. I had been raped. A hysterical fit attacked me and I started to hit my head violently against the walls till more than five American soldiers head by that soldier women entered the cell and started to beat me, and they raped me alternately while they laughing and listening to a loud music.

Day by day the scenario of raping me was repeated. And every day they invent new ways that are crueler than the prior ways.”

She went on describing the horrible acts of the American criminals: “After about one month, a Negro soldier entered my cell and threw me two pieces of American military clothes. He said in weak Arabic language to wear them. After he put a black bag on my head, he led me to a public toilet where there are pipes for cold and hot water and he asked me to bathe. He then closed the door and left.

I was so exhausted and feeling pain, and despite the tremendous number of the bruises in my body, I poured out some water on my body. Before I finish my bath, the Negro soldier came in. I frightened, and I hit him in the face with the water bowl. His reaction was so tough. He raped me cruelly and spit on my face, then he left and returned with two soldiers who returned me to the cell.

The treatment continued that way, to the extent that sometimes I was raped ten times in a day, the matter which affected my health negatively.”

Nadia continued in revealing the American horrible actions made against the Iraqi women, saying: “After more than 4 months, a woman soldier woman came, and I concluded from her conversation with other soldiers that her name is Mary. She said to me “now you have a golden opportunity, since an officer who has a high position will visit us today, if you deal with him positively, you would be released, especially because we are sure you are innocent.”

I replied, “If you are sure of I am innocent, why you don’t release me?” She screamed in nervousness, “The only way that guarantees your releasing is to be positive with them.”

She took me to the public toilets, and she supervised my bath while she was holding a thick stick, hitting me by it if I didn’t perform her orders. Then, she gave me makeup, and warned me not to cry and ruin my makeup. Then she took me to an empty small room where there was nothing but a cover on the floor, and after one an hour she came accompanied with four soldiers who was holding cameras. She took off her clothes and she harassed me as if she was a man. The soldiers were laughing and listening to a noisy music, and taking photographs to me in all poses, and they were emphasizing on my face. The woman asked me to smile otherwise she is going to kill me, and she took a gun from one of her colleagues and fired four bullets near my head, and swore that the fifth bullet will be fired in my head.

After that, the four soldiers raped me alternately the matter which made me lose my consciousness. When I regained the consciousness I found myself in the cell and the traces of their teeth, nails and cigarettes are in everywhere in my body.”

Nadia stopped narrating her tragedy to wipe her tears, then she continued: “After one day Mary came and told me that I was cooperative, and I will be released but after I watch the film that they have shot. I was in pain when I saw the film, and she (Mary) said: “you have been created for the sole purpose for us to enjoy”. At the moment I became very anger and I attacked her although I was afraid of her reaction, and I would kill her except for the interfering of the soldiers. When the soldiers released me she showered me with hitting, then they left me.

After this incident, nobody harassed me for more then one month; I spent that period in the praying and invocation to Allah, the All-Mighty who has all power, to help me.

Mary came with some soldiers who gave me the clothes that I was wearing when they arrested me and took me to an American car. Then they threw me on the highway road after giving me 10,000 Iraqi Dinars.

I went to a home that was near the place where I have been thrown out and since I know the reaction of my family, I preferred to visit one of my relatives to let them know what happened after my absence. I knew that my brother had held a consolation board for me for more than 4 months, and they considered me as a dead person.

I understand the knife of shame is waiting for me. So, I went to Baghdad where I found a good family who lodged me, and I worked with this family as a maid and governess for their children.

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Jun 15 2010

Iraqi woman raped by US-Soldiers

Published by under Iraq

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Jun 15 2010

Hidden victims of a brutal conflict

Published by under Iraq

Hidden victims of a brutal conflict: Iraq’s women

The Guardian

8 October 2006

Abduction, rape and murder are the punishments for any woman who dares to hold a professional job. A month-long investigation by The Observer reveals the terrible reality of life after Saddam

They came for Dr Khaula al-Tallal in a white Opel car after she took a taxi home to the middle class district of Qadissiya in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf. She worked for the medical committee that examined patients to assess them for welfare benefit. Crucially, however, she was a woman in a country where being a female professional increasingly invites a death sentence.As al-Tallal, 50, walked towards her house, one of three men in the Opel stepped out and raked her with bullets.  A women’s rights campaigner, Umm Salam – a nickname – knows about the three men in the Opel: they tried to kill her on 11 December last year. It was a Sunday, she recalls, and 15 bullets were fired into her own car as she drove home from teaching at an internet cafe. A man in civilian clothes got out of the car and opened fire. Three bullets hit her, one lodging close to her spinal cord. Her 20-year-old son was hit in the chest. Umm Salam saw the gun – a police-issue Glock. She is convinced her would-be assassin works for the state.

The shootings of al-Tallal and Umm Salam are not isolated incidents, even in Najaf – a city almost exclusively Shia and largely insulated from the sectarian violence of the North. Bodies of young women have appeared in its dusty lanes and avenues, places patrolled by packs of dogs where the boundaries bleed into the desert. It is a favourite place for dumping murder victims.

Iraqis do not like to talk about it much, but there is an understanding of what is going on these days. If a young woman is abducted and murdered without a ransom demand, she has been kidnapped to be raped. Even those raped and released are not necessarily safe: the response of some families to finding that a woman has been raped has been to kill her.

Iraq’s women are living with a fear that is increasing in line with the numbers dying violently every month. They die for being a member of the wrong sect and for helping their fellow women. They die for doing jobs that the militants have decreed that they cannot do: for working in hospitals and ministries and universities. They are murdered, too, because they are the softest targets for Iraq’s criminal gangs.

Iraq’s women live in terror of speaking their opinions; of going out to work; or defying the strict new prohibitions on dress and behaviour applied across Iraq by Islamist militants, both Sunni and Shia. They live in fear of their husbands, too, as women’s rights have been undermined by the country’s postwar constitution that has taken power from the family courts and given it to clerics.

‘Women are being targeted more and more,’ said Umm Salam last week. Her husband was a university professor who was executed in 1991 under Saddam Hussein after the Shia uprising. She survived by running her family farm. When the Americans arrived she got involved in civic action, teaching illiterate women how to read and vote, independent from the influence of their husbands. She helped them fill in forms for benefits and set up a sewing workshop.

In doing so she put herself at mortal risk. And since the assassination attempt, like many women in Najaf, she has found it hard to work. Which is what the men in the white Opel wanted. To silence the women like Umm Salam, who is 42. “It is very difficult for women here. There is a lot of pressure on our personal freedoms. None of us feels that we can have an opinion on anything any more. If she does, she risks being killed.’

It is a story familiar to women across Iraq, betrayed by the country’s new constitution that guaranteed them a 25 per cent share of membership of the Council of Representatives. That guarantee has turned instead into a fig leaf hiding what women activists now call a ‘human rights catastrophe for Iraqi women’.

After a month-long investigation, The Observer has established that in almost every major area of human rights, women are being seriously discriminated against, in some cases seeing their conditions return to those of females in the Middle Ages. In areas such as the Shia militia stronghold of Sadr City in east Baghdad, women have been beaten for not wearing socks. Even the headscarf and juba – the ankle-length, flared coat that buttons to the collar – are not enough for the zealots. Some women have been threatened with death unless they wear the full abbaya, the black, all-encompassing veil.

Similar reports are emerging from Mosul, where it is Sunni extremists who are laying down the law, and Kirkuk. Women from Karbala, Hilla, Basra and Nassariyah have all told The Observer similar stories. Of the insidious spread of militia and religious party control – and how members of those same groups are, paradoxically, increasingly responsible for the rape and murder of women outside their sects and communities.

‘There is a member of my organisation, an activist who is a Christian,’ said Yanar Mohammed, head of the Organisation for Iraqi Women’s Freedom, who has had death threats for her work in protecting women threatened by domestic violence or ‘honour’ killings. ‘She would have to walk home each day to her neighbourhood through an area controlled by one of the Islamic Shia militias, the Jaish al-Mahdi. She does not wear a veil so she gets abused by these men. About three weeks ago, one of them starts following her home saying that he wants a sexual relationship with her. He tells her what he wants to do, and if she doesn’t agree he says she will be kidnapped. In the end he thinks that, because he is armed, because he threatens her existence, she will have to agree to a “pleasure marriage” [a temporary sexual union arranged by a cleric].’

Strong anecdotal evidence gathered by organisations such as that of Yanar Mohammed and by the Iraqi Women’s Network, run by Hanna Edwar, suggests rape is also being used as a weapon in the sectarian war to humiliate families from rival communities. ‘So far what we have been seeing is what you might call “collateral rape”,’ says Besmia Khatib of the Iraqi Women’s Network. ‘Rape is being used in the settling of scores in the sectarian war.’ Yanar Mohammed describes how a Shia girl was kidnapped, raped and dumped in the Husseiniya area of Baghdad. The retaliation, she says, was the kidnapping and rape of several Sunni girls in the Rashadiya area. Tit for tat.

Similar stories are emerging across Iraq. ‘Of course rape is going on,’ says Aida Ussayaran, former deputy Human Rights Minister and now one of the women on the Council of Representatives. ‘We blame the militias. But when we talk about the militias, many are members of the police. Any family now that has a good-looking young woman in it does not want to send her out to school or university, and does not send her out without a veil. This is the worst time ever in Iraqi women’s lives. In the name of religion and sectarian conflict they are being kidnapped and killed and raped. And no one is mentioning it.’

Women activists are convinced there is substantial under-reporting of crimes against women in some areas, particularly involving ‘honour killing’ – there is a massive increase against a background of pervasive violence – and that families often seek death certificates that will hide the cause. In regions such as the violent Anbar province, the country’s largest, which borders Jordan and Syria, there is little reporting of the causes of any death. And activists complain, in any case, that they have been blocked from examining bodies at the Medical Forensic Institute in Baghdad, or collecting their own figures to build up an accurate picture of what is happening to women.

While attacks on women have long been the dirty secret of Iraq’s war, the sheer levels of the violence is now pushing it into the open. Last week in Samawah, 246 kilometres (153 miles) south of Baghdad, three women and a toddler were killed when gunmen stormed their home in an unexplained mass murder. Like Dr al-Tallal in Najaf, they were Shia Muslims in a Shia city. The three women were shot. The 18-month-old baby had her throat slit.

In the north, too, last week the killing of women became more visible, with the al-Jazeera network reporting that attacks on women in the city of Mosul had led to an unprecedented rise in the number of women’s bodies being found. Among them was Zuheira, a young housewife, found shot dead in the suburb of Gogaly. Salim Zaho, a neighbour, quoted by the television station, said: ‘They couldn’t kill her husband, a police officer, so they came for his wife instead.’

It is one of the recurring narratives of murder told by Iraqi women. It is a violence that would not be possible without a wider, permissive brutalising of women’s lives: one that permeates the ‘new Iraq’ in its entirety. For it is not only the religious militias that have turned women’s lives into a living hell – it is, in some measure, the government itself, which has allowed ministries run by religious parties to segregate staff by gender. Some public offices, including ministries, insist on women staff wearing a headscarf at all times. A women’s shelter, set up by Yanar Mohammed’s group, was closed down by the government.

Most serious of all are the death threats women receive for simply working, even in government offices. Zainub – not her real name – works for a ministry in Baghdad. One morning, she said, she arrived at work to find that a letter had been sent to all the women. ‘When I opened up the note it said, “You will die. You will die”.’

The situation has been exacerbated by the undermining of Iraq’s old Family Code, established in 1958, which guaranteed women a large measure of equality in key areas such as divorce and inheritance. The new constitution has allowed the Family Code to be superseded by the power of the clerics and new religious courts, with the result that it is largely discriminatory against women. The clerics have permitted the creeping re-emergence of men contracting multiple marriages, formerly discouraged by the old code. It is these clerics, too, who have permitted a sharp escalation in the ‘pleasure marriages’. And it is the same clerics overseeing the rapid transformation of a once secular society – in which women held high office and worked as professors, doctors, engineers and economists – into one where women have been forced back under the veil and into the home. The result is mapped out every day on Iraq’s streets and in its country lanes in individual acts of intimidation and physical brutality that build into an awful whole.

And so in Salman Pak, on the Tigris 15 miles south of Baghdad, The Observer is told, the Karaa Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior rounds up some Sunni men. Later some of the police return to the men’s houses and promise their worried women to help find the missing men in exchange for sex.

In the Shia neighbourhood of al-Shaab in Baghdad, militiamen with the Jaish al-Mahdi put out an order banning women from wearing sandals and certain shoes, skirts and trousers. They beat up others for wearing the wrong clothes.

In Amaryah, a Sunni stronghold in Baghdad, Sunni militants shave three women’s heads for wearing the wrong clothes and lash young men for wearing shorts. In Zafaraniyah, a largely Shia suburb south of Baghdad, the Jaish al-Mahdi militiamen wait outside a school and slap girls not wearing the hijab.

It is a situation bleakly recorded by the Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq. ‘There are reports that, in some Baghdad neighbourhoods, women are now prevented from going to the markets alone,’ Unami reported. ‘In other cases, women have been warned not to drive cars, or have faced harassment if they wear trousers. Women have also reported that wearing a headscarf is becoming not a matter of religious choice but one of survival in many parts of Iraq, a fact particularly resented by non-Muslim women. Female university students are also facing constant pressure in university campuses.’

‘Since the beginning of August it has just been getting worse,’ says Nagham Kathim Hamoody, an activist with the Iraqi Women’s Network in Najaf . ‘There are more women being killed and more bodies being found in the cemetery. I don’t know why they are being killed, but I know the militias are behind the killing… We went to the mortuary here in Najaf, but the authorities would not co-operate in helping to identify the murdered women. There was one doctor, though, who told us that some of the bodies showed signs that they had been beaten prior to their murder.’

And so the painful lives of Iraqi women go on.

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