‘Over 400 women kidnapped, raped in post-war Iraq’
BAGHDAD: More than 400 Iraqi women have been kidnapped and raped amid the lawlessness gripping the country since the ouster of Saddam Hussein, the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq said Sunday.
The group’s director Yanar Mohammed said the four months since the US-led coalition took control had seen an “unprecedented” explosion of violence against women.
“More than 400 women have endured the pain and suffering of being kidnapped, raped and sometimes sold,” she told reporters at a demonstration in Baghdad’s Fardous Square.
“This violence is still a daily occurrence, especially on the streets of Baghdad, without attracting the least attention of the (US) soldiers.” Mohammed said the attacks had created a climate of fear among women which meant few dared venture out of their homes.
“The moment a woman steps out on to the street, she is an immediate target for humiliation, sexual assault and abduction. “The assaults against women, whether organised by professional gangs or individual crimes supported by male chauvinism, and unleashed and unobserved by coalition authorities, consequently turned the streets into a no-woman zone.”
Saihan Ali, a 35-year-old health ministry employee who joined the protest, agreed.
“Before, I would take a walk after work, but now I quickly return home, and I’m always on the alert because anything can happen,” she said. The Organisation of Women’s Freedom has accused US forces of not doing enough to secure the streets.
It said it had appealed, in vain, for help from Iraq’s US-appointed interim Governing Council as well as US civil administrator Paul Bremer. “One of the justifications announced by the US administration as a pretext for the military attack was introducing a new area of freedom for women and men in Iraq,” it said.
“We demand the setting up of security guards and patrols in every main street and a community centre on a 24-hour, seven-day basis. We also demand heavy sentences against sex offenders.” —AFP