"They range from girls of twelve to women in their sixties".
The allegations made by the victims in the report are sickening, and can
only be attributed to those who live in a sick society, like America."
Colonial Violence Against Women in Iraq
Posted June 1, 2004 thepeoplesvoice.org
By: Ghali Hassan
"[G] reat day for the people in Iraq, torture chambers and rape rooms are shut down".
Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State, 08 March 2004.
In one of the most secular countries in the Arab world, where women were until
recently a visible and integrated part of public life, females have all but
disappeared. The lawlessness, brought by the occupation forces into Iraq, is
felt disproportionately by young women and girls who have yet to finish
their education. This is the "freedom" George W. Bush and his cabal brought
to the Iraqi people.
Immediately after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the U.S. army failed
to establish effective authority and security of their own. And because of
the power vacuum that developed when the Iraqi regime collapsed, there was a
complete breakdown of law and order encouraged by the invading forces.
According to Amnesty International, "violence against women and girls has
sharply increased in Iraq compared to the time before last year's war".
Under the U.S.-British occupation, Iraqi women faced arrest; torture,
including rape; and even execution simply because their husbands or male
relatives were sought by the occupation forces" . Women detainees and
Iraqi Prisoners of War (POWs) arrested without charge by the occupying
forces are denied humane treatment and rights under the Geneva Conventions
and International laws. So far, only Saddam Hussein has been granted
"prisoner of war" status by the United States.
Under international humanitarian law, the occupying forces have a
responsibility to guarantee the "safety of the civilian population in Iraq".
They have an obligation to maintain and restore public order and to provide
food, medical care and relief assistance. So far, they have failed in their
duties. The occupying forces must provide effective protection, investigate
and punish all perpetrators of violence against women.
The U.S. occupation force in Iraq is taking women and their close relatives
hostages, and using them as "bargaining chips". Recently, Newsday reported
that, "the U.S. military is holding dozens of Iraqi women as bargaining
chips to put pressure on their wanted relatives to surrender. These
detainees are not accused of any crimes, and experts say their detention
violates the Geneva Conventions and other international laws. The practice
also risks associating the United States with the tactics of countries it
has long criticized for arbitrary arrests". The Australian SBS World News
reported on 29 May 2004 of horrific cases of Iraqi women detainees tortured
and raped by U.S. soldiers and their quislings.
Cases of torture and rape of Iraqi women detainees first come out of prison
through smuggled note by a female detainee to the resistance fighters in
which the other women detainees asked the fighters to bomb the prison and
spare their dignity. Amal K. Swadi, one of several female lawyers
representing Iraqi women detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, detailed the
systematic abuse and torture (including rapes) perpetrated by U.S. soldiers
against Iraqi women held in detention "across Iraq" without charge.
According to Swadi, the women have been detained - not because of anything
they have done, but merely because of whom they married to. Often U.S.
soldiers raid a house in their violent manners, and if they fail to find a
male suspect, they will take away his wife or daughter instead.
The wife and daughter of the former Vice Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary
Council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, were arrested in November last year. The
occupation authority has acknowledged that they are detained, but they
haven't said anything about their legal status or the reason for their
detention. Although, Amnesty International and several human rights
organisations have called on the occupation authority to "guarantee adequate
protection of women and women rights defenders", they received no response.
US officials have acknowledged detaining women in the hope of convincing
male relatives to provide information: a strategy that is in violation of
all international laws. "The issue is the system", Nada Doumani of the
International Committee of the Red Cross told Luke Harding of the Guardian
of London. Iman Khamas, head of the International Occupation Watch Centre, a
non-governmental organization 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". Kamas reported that, "since December 2003
there are around 625 women prisoners in Al-Rusafah prison in Umm Qasr and
750 in Al-Kazimah alone. They range from girls of twelve to women in their
sixties". The allegations made by the victims in the report are sickening,
and can only be attributed to those who live in a sick society, like
America. Furthermore, British Labor MP Ann Clwyd, Tony Blair's personal
human rights envoy to Iraq, highlighted the humiliation last year of an
Iraqi woman in her 70s detained by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib for about six
weeks without charge. The elderly women had been abused, insulted and ridden
like a donkey by U.S. soldiers.
These heinous crimes against Iraqi women and Iraqis POWs are not the acts of
a " few bad apples", as suggested by George W. Bush and his lackey Tony
Blair. All the evidence now points to the facts that Donald Rumsfeld authorized physical coercion and sexual humiliation in Iraqi prisons. Julian
Borger of the Guardian of London reported from Washington "General Ricardo
Sanchez, head of coalition forces in Iraq, issued an order last October
giving military intelligence control over almost every aspect of prison
conditions at Abu Ghraib with the explicit aim of manipulating the detainees
'emotions and weaknesses'. Borger writes, "The October 12 memorandum,
reported in the Washington Post, is a potential 'smoking gun' linking
prisoners abuse to the U.S. high command. It represents hard evidence that
the maltreatment was not simply the fault of rogue military police guards". So far, these heinous crimes against Iraqi civilians
men) proved to be ineffective; no weapons of mass destruction have been
found in Iraq, and the resistance continue to grow.
The revelation of tortures and rapes of Iraqi POWs and Iraqi female
detainees "constitute the writing on the wall for a decadent civilization
which has been proclaiming its moral and cultural superiority to the world
for some centuries now and using that public delusion to control their own
populations and bludgeon all the world's peoples into submission, with
vacuous promises of civilization or freedom", writes Aseem Shrivastava .
Western culture has never stood lower in Moslem and Arab eyes.
Mainstream Western media are in total cooperation with power. CBS, who held
its story for two weeks at the request of General Richard B. Myers, Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, showed the kind of self-censorship in the
media. CBS only aired the story to beat Seymour Hersh's report in The New
Yorker. According to Danny Schecter of Media Channel, "CBS was so nervous
about bucking the Pentagon that it needed to interview war supporters and
spooks in its story to validate its decision to air the story". The Red
Cross spokeswoman Antonella Notari says, "the photographs are certainly
shocking, but our reports/ratios are worse . . .. We don't need the photos
to know what's going on and that it's not acceptable". According to the
Taguba's report, the report, which was prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonio M.
Taguba on alleged abuse of prisoners by members of the 800th Military Police
Brigade at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, Iraqi women, have been abused,
raped and forced to strip naked by sick U.S. soldiers at gunpoint. The Bush
Administration refuses to release photographs and videotapes to prevent
further domestic embarrassment in the land of the "free press".
Western Women's movements stood silent when tortures and rapes of Iraqi
women detainees came to light. Western "feminists" are ready to attack with
ferocity Moslem "fundamentalists" and community leaders, but they failed to
lift a finger when innocent Iraqi women and girls are detained, tortured and
raped by sick colonial soldiers. Furthermore, western feminists allowed Bush
and Blair to hijack feminist rhetoric in order to bomb and kill thousands of
innocent Afghani and Iraqi civilians. This is not new in imperialists
thinking; western feminism has served as a "handmaid to colonialism".
"Whether in the hands of patriarchal men or feminists", writes Harvard
Professor, Leila Ahmed, "the ideas of western feminism essentially
functioned to morally justify the attack on native societies and to support
the notion of comprehensive superiority of [the U.S.A. and] Europe . Bush
and Blair speak the language of benevolent bullies, and their lies led to
the destruction of Iraq and the murder of more than 12,000 innocent
The words "rape" and "torture" seem to be difficult words for Americans and
Westerns to utter when they are caught in the act of committing them on
people of other societies. The American scholar, Joseph Massad writes: "It
should not be forgotten that in America, not in the Moslem World, between 40
percent and 60 percent of women killed, are killed by their husbands and
boyfriends, but such murders of course are no longer even called 'passion'
crimes; much less 'honor' crimes. It is the misogynistic trait of imperial
American culture and its violent racism that propels the torture to which
Iraqi prisoners (POWs and civilians) have been, and may still subjected".
Here is what the average Iraqis thinks of "the land of the free and the home
of the brave": "They are an army of sick cowards. They are from a country of
Rightwing Americans lost their mind to think properly. It is preposterous to
read the like of Michael Ignatieff advocating violence against innocent
people, and at the same time encouraging the rise of terrorism. The New York
Times columnist writes: "the US and its allies should use coercion and
assassination to defeat terrorism. But they must still keep faith with
democratic principles". How can one keeps with these "democratic principles"
if one does not believe in democratic principles for those one despised? Mr.
Ignatieff proved to the world that he doesn't think properly, and that his
opinion is pure imperialist rubbish. Terrorism grows out of the violence of
"state terrorism", currently practiced openly by the U.S. and its close ally
Israel. The definition of terrorism seems to fit the patterns of American
and Western imperialism. The U.S. and its allies should be condemned for
blatant violations of International laws and the Fourth Geneva Conventions.
Secretary Powell's promises on Women's Day stood in stark contrast to the
realities on the ground in Iraq. Mr. Powell is more concerned about
"America's International image" than the welfare of the Iraqi people. Mr.
Powell allowed himself to become the mouthpiece for the neocons gang and
Israel's Zionists. Mr. Powell's job for the past decades has been selling
wars against innocent and defenseless people. History shows that Mr. Powell
sacrificed moral principles and human rights for his own increasingly
There is no military solution to the situation in Iraq, and therefore the
best way to end the violence against the Iraqi people, is to end the
military and economic occupation of Iraq. It will also be a historical day
in the struggle for liberation from colonial occupation. That day will
certainly come to Iraq.
 Amnesty International, Violence against women increases sharply, 31 March 2004.
 Mohammed Bazzi, U.S. using some Iraqis as bargaining chips, Newsweek, 26 May 2004.
 Julian Borger, Commander of coalition forces witnessed prisoner abuse, The Guardian, 24 May 2004.
 Aseem Shrivastava, Iraq torture, Znet, 03 May 204.
 Danny Schecter, Why Media Stood Silent When Torture Cases First Came To Light, MediaChannel,
May 12, 2004.
 Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, Yale University Press, 1993.
 Joseph Massad, Imperial mementos, Al-Ahram Weekly, No. 691, 2004.
© copyright 5/31/04 by
Ghali Hassan. Permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or
web media if this credit is attached and the title remains unchanged. Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au