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Report: Thousands of Iraqi Women Illegally Detained, Tortured, Raped

"The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq.”

"The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq,” says Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. (Photo: James Gordon/cc/flickr)

"The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq,” says Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. (Photo: James Gordon/cc/flickr)

Iraqi security forces are illegally detaining thousands of women, subjecting many to torture, abuse, rape, and forcing them into confessions, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.

In 'No One Is Safe': Abuses of Women in Iraq's Criminal Justice System, HRW reveals a pattern of systemic abuse within a failed judicial system characterized by corruption.

The report estimates that over 1,100 women are detained, often without a warrant, in Iraqi prisons or detention facilities. Frequently, the women are arrested not for their won alleged actions but for those of a male relative.

Sexual abuse during interrogations of women is so common that Um Aqil, an employee at a women's prison facility, told HRW, "[W]e expect that they’ve been raped by police on the way to the prison."

On top of rape, many arrested women are subjected to electric shocks, beatings, burnings, being hung upside down and foot whipping (falaqa).  Following the torture the women may be forced to sign a blank confession paper or one that they are unable to read.

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In the video below published by HRW, one woman reveals her story of abuse:

The report authors write that the failed criminal justice system revealed in the report shows that "Prime Minister al-Maliki’s government has so far failed to eliminate many of the abusive practices that Saddam Hussein institutionalized and United States-led Coalition Forces continued."

"The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq,” adds Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement from the organization. "These abuses have caused a deep-seated anger and lack of trust between Iraq’s diverse communities and security forces, and all Iraqis are paying the price."

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