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.

 

Libya forces launch ‘final battle for Sirte’

Dozens killed as Turkey ramps up unprecedented offensive in Syria

Yemen government cautiously welcomes US peace plan

Iraq officially asks Saudi Arabia to change ambassador

In Saudi city of Najran, Huthis commit war crimes with indiscriminate rockets

Iran arrests 'nuclear spy'

Egypt frees renowned rights lawyer, Malek Adly

Yemen shelling kills three-year-old boy in Saudi border region

Turkey sends more tanks into Syria to bolster military offensive

Turkey arrests former top diplomats over failed coup

Tunisia swears in new premier after approval from parliament

Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian in occupied West Bank

11 Turkish police officers killed in Cizre bomb attack claimed by PKK

French court suspends burkini ban

Tears as evacuation starts in Syria's Daraya

Turkey PM denies Syria operation singling out Kurds

Kerry, Lavrov meet for talks on Syria

Tunisia parliament to vote on cabinet proposal

Kuwait arrests govt employee promoting IS online

Turkey shells Kurdish fighters in Syria after warning

Oil prices fall on Saudi doubt on output cut

Jeddah meeting bears no fruit on Yemen conflict

Kerry in Saudi for talks on regional conflicts

UN Syria envoy expects 'impact' from Kerry-Lavrov meeting

Iraq parliament votes to impeach defense minister

Russia says will cooperate in Syria chemical attacks probe

Iraq forces take key town south of Mosul

Hamas to leave name off ballot in Palestinian elections

Iranian navy in 'unsafe' intercept of US destroyer

Three wounded in PKK attack on Turkey opposition chief's convoy

Erdogan to inaugurate Istanbul's third Bosphorus bridge

China to train Syrian troops

Turkey reinforces ground forces across border into Syria

Turkey says 'every right' to intervene if Kurds fail to withdraw

UN rights chief urges international probe of Yemen violations

Tunisia unity government to remain unchanged

Raped teen who took own life finally gets justice in Morocco

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet

Syria regime, Kurds blast Turkish incursion

Biden: Washington told Kurds not to cross Euphrates

Israeli court shuns plea to unchain Palestinian hunger striker

Saudi police foil mosque suicide bombing

Kerry to meet Russia's Lavrov in Geneva on Friday

Kurdish forces in Syria prime target for Turkey