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

Cant 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.

 

France, US clash with Iran over changing nuclear accord

Syria donors fall short of UN target without US aid

Same family names in Lebanon election

Turkey jails opposition daily journalists

Iraq’s ex-football stars from sports to politics

Morocco struggles with underage marriage

Highs and lows in Egypt’s Operation Sinai

416 donors to IS identified in France

Five migrants die trying to cross Mediterranean

Rights architects nominated for UK art prize

In Iraq's Anbar, election offers chance to settle scores

Philippines demands explanation after Kuwait expels ambassador

UK ‘seeking information’ over British-Iranian’s arrest

Macron says Trump may pull out of Iran nuclear deal

Turkey opposition journalists demand acquittal in terror trial

UN says Syria blocking humanitarian aid to Douma

OPCW experts visit second site of alleged Douma gas attack

Israeli policeman gets 9 months jail for killing Palestinian

US court rules for Arab Bank in precedent-setting case

Lebanese candidates pay hefty price for media coverage

Madani’s resignation sheds light on Iranian power play

Kuwait expels Filipino ambassador over treatment of workers

Syria aid donations for 2018 fall short of amount hoped

Growing anti-war sentiment in the US Congress could spell trouble for Trump

Liverpool’s Salah wins Israeli defence minister’s plaudits

Body of assassinated Palestinian driven through Malaysian capital

'Gap in perceptions' threatens wider Middle East war

UNESCO picks Morocco for project on prevention of violent extremism

Syrian regime retakes region near Damascus from rebels

Mogherini: Iran deal 'needs to be preserved'

Syria rebels prepare as Assad sets sights on next target

Iran's Rouhani questions 'right' to seek new nuclear deal

Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial vote

EU to Russia, Iran: Bring Syria to peace talks

Trump, Macron call for 'new' nuclear deal with Iran

Saudi Arabia claims killing of Yemen rebel leader

Syria's Idlib 'big new challenge' for international community

UNRWA chief says Palestinian aid $200 million short since Trump cuts

Bad memories resurface at Raqa’s mass grave

Turkey newspaper chief slams journalist terror trial

Setback for Yemen rebels after strike takes out leader

Saudi issues Islamic sukuk sale to finance deficit

Yarmuk, an epicentre of Syria's bloody conflict

Egypt’s Eurobond succeeds but risks remain

Egypt former anti-corruption chief gets five years jail