Women’s rights and human rights advocates fear that whether or not there was widespread sexual abuse of female prisoners in Iraq, the women who were imprisoned face even more problems upon release. In Iraq, women who are raped are sometimes killed by male relatives in order to preserve family “honor.”
A member of Iraqi’s Board of Islamic Clergy, Sheik Mohammad Bashar Faydhi, stated that a woman who suffered sexual abuse in prison may be in danger from her own society if her family finds out or even thinks that she was raped, reports the LA Times. Being raped, he said, “is like being sentenced to death,” according to the Times.
Already unofficial reports are emerging that female prisoners have been sexually abused, forced to strip naked, and were beaten by guards. However, only one case of rape has been documented (in the United States Army report on Abu Ghraib), possibly because Iraqi women are afraid to speak out. A leading Iraqi human rights activists told the Scotsman that she has “been unable to meet with any [women] É They are reluctant to come forward.” According to the Guardian, the Pentagon has in its possession photos and videos showing American soldiers raping Iraqi female detainees and forcing female inmates to strip naked.
In addition, some of the Iraqi women who have been imprisoned have not been charged with any crime. Instead, the United States arrested them because they were the wives or relatives of prominent Baath party members. The Guardian reports that US Army officials stated that they detained these women as a means to get information about their male relatives– a practice that goes against international law.