First Published: 2004-05-29

 
Human rights groups: Iraqi women raped at Abu Ghraib jail
 

Closed nature of Iraqi society made claims difficult to verify, women prefer to die rather than talk.

 

Middle East Online

By Rouba Kabbara – BAGHDAD

Can’t talk

Iraqi women who were held at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad have complained of rape by both US and Iraqi jailers, according to human rights groups citing alleged victims.

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, chief military spokesman for the US-led coalition in Iraq, told AFP the prisons department was "unaware of any such reports at Abu Ghraib," and the cases were not confirmed first-hand by AFP.

Kimmitt said there were at present no female prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which has become notorious after evidence of abuse of male inmates by US military police guards.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Abu Ghraib held some 30 women in October last year. According to the prison management, there were five at the beginning of this month.

Iman Khamas, head of the International Occupation Watch Center, a non-governmental organisation which gathers information on human rights abuses under coalition rule, said one former detainee had recounted the alleged rape of her cellmate in Abu Ghraib.

According to Khamas, the prisoner said her cellmate had been rendered unconscious for 48 hours. "She claimed she had been raped 17 times in one day by Iraqi police in the presence of American soldiers."

Mohammed Daham al-Mohammed said the Iraqi group he heads, the Union of Detainees and Prisoners, had been told of a mother of four, arrested in December, who killed herself after being raped by US guards in front of her husband at Abu Ghraib.

The account came from the woman's sister who said she had helped in the suicide.

According to the sister, the woman had told of "being taken into a cell where she saw her husband attached to the bars.

"An American soldier held her by the hair to force her to look at her husband while he stripped her," Mohammed said.

She was then raped, while her husband cried out "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest), he added, quoting the sister. After her release the woman had begged her sister to help her die so she would not have to face her husband when he was freed.

One former male prisoner, Amer Abu Durayid, 30, who was released from Abu Ghraib on May 13, told AFP he had seen women being taken into a room. "They had to pass in front of our tent and cried out, 'Find a way to kill us'" he said.

Human rights groups point out that in a conservative society like Iraq women feel that rape dishonours their whole family.

"A woman would prefer to die," Khamas said.

She added that one single woman, an economics teacher, had whispered her story of being raped at Abu Ghraib in Khamas's ear, even though there was no one else in the room.

"The next day, she came back with her brother and asked me to tear up her statement," Khamas said.

Khamas, Mohammed and Hoda Nuaimi, a politics professor at Baghdad University, all separately said that three young rural women from the Sunni Muslim region of Al-Anbar, west of Baghdad, had been killed by their families after coming out of Abu Ghraib pregnant.

Nuaimi said that in the case of another such woman, who was four months pregnant, her brother had been reluctant to kill his sister because he considered her a victim.

"He was extremely disturbed and went to see a tribal sheikh, who forbade him to kill her," Nuaimi said, while admitting that she did not know what had happened to the woman.

Khamas also said in a report that a middle-aged woman had been sexually assaulted after she was detained at Baghdad airport in September 2003.

Most of the women arrested by coalition forces are accused of holding senior positions in ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's Baath party or assisting the resistance against the occupation forces.

Kimmitt said the "total present female criminal population" in Iraq stood at 78, but there were none at Abu Ghraib.

While the coalition prisons department was "unaware" of reports of rape at Abu Ghraib, "there have been reports of abuses by Iraqi police in their jails," he said.

A spokeswoman for Amnesty International said the London-based human rights group had not received any such reports of rape, and added that the closed nature of Iraqi society made them very difficult to verify.

 

Drone targets Qaeda suspects in crisis-hit Yemen

Assad: US idea to train rebels illusionary

Tunisia parliament delays confidence vote on new government

New Saudi leadership aims to diversify oil-dependent economy

Is female cycling socially unacceptable in Egypt?

Egypt court orders release of Mubarak sons pending retrial

Saudi Arabia seeks greater American role in Middle East crises

Iraq army announces liberation of Diyala from ‘Islamic State’

After 4 months of fighting, Kurds expel ‘Islamic State’ from Kobane

Libya warring factions meet in Geneva to resume peace talks

Tunisia's Ennahda rejects Essid cabinet line-up

Alleged Algerian jihadist arrested in Morocco

UN Security Council to on Yemen crisis

Obama vows to maintain pressure on Qaeda in crisis-hit Yemen

Gaza announces plans to ready sea port for international travel

Barrage of rockets rains down on Syria capital

Egypt extends Sinai state of emergency by three months

Syria ambassador to UN to head government team in Moscow talks

Qatar court tells US family to decide on fate of alleged killer

Gunmen kidnap Libya deputy foreign minister from hotel room

Erdogan visits war-torn Somalia amid tight security

New violence as Egypt marks anniversary of 2011 revolt

Yemen Huthi rebels fire in air to disperse Sanaa protest

Gridlocked streets of Saudi capital turn quiet for day of mourning

Islamist websites confirm death of Ansar al-Sharia chief in Libya

World leaders head to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences

Iran parliament starts to draft law on nuclear enrichment hike

Mauritania prison siege ends with captives freed

Syria opposition demands 'radical democratic change'

Tunisia turns the page on political Islam

Iran FM pays rare visit to Saudi Arabia after King's death

Signs of uprising against Huthis in streets of Sanaa

Israel prepares for any retaliation by Hezbollah

New Tunisia PM forms cabinet with no Islamists

Saudi Arabia buries King Abdullah

Britain allowed Libya to intimidate political opponents

Gul calls to Erdogan for greater democracy

Israel Arab parties join forces ahead of snap election

Mubarak sons freed pending retrial

Hagel: US has killed thousands of jihadists

Iraq asks for more weapons to fight IS threat

Half-brother Salman replaces late Saudi King

Yemen leader resigns, leaves country in deadlock

King of Saudi Arabia dies at age of 90, Crown Prince Salman declared new ruler

Europe pleads for more nuclear talks allowance