In Iraq, Sexual Assault Incidents Are Brushed Aside, Report Says

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In Iraq, Sexual Assault Incidents Are Brushed Aside, Report Says



[url=,1,757255... often see rape as a family matter. Female victims are disowned, even killed, by relatives.[/url]


By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — The girl was all alone on the desolate fringe of Baghdad, crying and pleading for help. She and her two sisters had been abducted by a gang, she said through her tears, and held captive for weeks. She had escaped, but she had been forced to leave her sisters behind.

The elderly man in a pickup recoiled. He didn't want to help this girl — surely she'd been defiled. Finally, he relented.

But after half an hour, he stopped near a mosque and told her to get out.

Then he sped off — the only witness who could have helped police trace the house where the girl, Mary, 15, her sisters and at least seven other girls as young as 6 had been held prisoner.

The next person Mary met — a woman this time — was slightly more helpful. She put Mary in a taxi with a strange man, wrote a note and told him to take the girl to coalition forces.

In a country where rape is so shameful that conservative families may kill the victims, Mary's two half-hearted rescuers that day in June didn't want to get involved in her ordeal. A recent report on sexual assaults in Iraq has focused attention on dismissive attitudes — or worse — to rape, not just among ordinary Iraqis but also among police and health officials.

Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who until recently oversaw the Iraqi police, has said that reforming their attitudes to rape is a high priority, but the message has not filtered down to many Iraqi policemen.

Police Lt. Col. Abbas Jasim, whose station, Al Khadraq, covers most of west Baghdad, insisted that rape affects only non-Islamic societies. "Our Islamic religion forbids these acts and even our criminals are affected, so they are afraid to commit rape," he said.

Another police colonel at the station, Mohammed Abdul Raheem, said he did not know of a single genuine case in his 26 years in the force.

Such comments highlight the problems the U.S.-led coalition faces in turning around deeply ingrained cultural attitudes — and the gulf between coalition soldiers and Iraqi police as they work together on law enforcement.

The July report on sexual violence issued by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch criticized the coalition's failure to protect women and girls from violence and track down and punish rapists, reporting that U.S. military police often did not follow up rape complaints. It said Iraqi police saw rape as a matter for families to resolve.


It's more or less the same battle women had to fight here, isn't it?

It's pretty darn difficult to get any patriarchal society to blame the rapists and not the victims.

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war and rape