Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

While on guard duty at a Baghdad shopping precinct, four American soldiers reportedly raped two Iraqi women. Said one soldier who was interviewed:

“I know the women were Iraqi. I however don’t know if they were raped, or were prostitutes, or just wanted sex.”

The soldier’s comments, and those of others interviewed, went unchallenged, and “only the most cursory attempts [were made] by the investigator to establish whether the women were raped.”

The fallout? The allegations “can be heard almost everywhere in Turkey, [that] US troops have raped thousands of Iraqi women and young girls. …”

Nurullah Kuncak says his father, Ilyas Kuncak, was boiling with rage about the rumoured rapes just before he killed himself delivering the huge car bomb that devastated the Turkish headquarters of HSBC bank [in January 2004], …

“Didn’t you see? The American soldiers raped Iraqi women … My father talked to me about it . . . Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?”

More fallout and detailed reports below, including today’s report on Democracy Now! : : :
More about the specifics of the rape charges below. First, this:

More fallout. In “Iraqi women find election a cruel joke,” an op-ed published in The Independent and reprinted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Jan. 30, 2005, Houzan MahMoud — the United Kingdom head of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq — wrote:

The occupation has unleashed this new violence against women, while in some cases adding its own particular variety. Iraqi women have been tortured by U.S. soldiers in prisons. The social taboo against speaking about sexual abuse is so strong in Iraq that these women will almost certainly have no one to turn to upon release.

Methal Kazem is one woman who spoke publicly of her treatment by the occupiers. Last February a U.S. helicopter landed on the roof of her house. She was hooded and handcuffed and taken to Abu Ghraib.

Accused of being a former Baathist secret policewoman, she was made to run on sharp gravel, tied up and suspended and made to listen to the screaming of other inmates. She heard one man repeatedly screaming “do not touch my honor” and Methal believes that the man’s wife was being raped in front of him. …

I also believe that American soldiers have raped Iraqi women. They dare not talk about it, however, as they face being killed by their own families if they do. My associates in Iraq have been counseling Liqaa, a former Iraqi female soldier, who was raped by an American soldier in November 2003. The savage truth is that if she returns home, male family members may murder her for her “dishonor.”

How Fake Photographs Fuel Muslim Anger: One site I investigated purported to show actual photos of Iraqi women being raped by U.S./coalition soldiers.

Reports the Christian Science Monitor in a May 2004 article, “For Iraqi women, Abu Ghraib’s taint,” the photos “would horrify anyone: hooded US soldiers raping and torturing naked Iraqi women at gunpoint. …” However:

The pictures in the paper are fakes, bad copies lifted from a porn website and now ricocheting around the Internet. But in Iraq, where the photos circulate on floppy discs and CDs and splash across newspapers and TV screens, most people believe them.

“I know they’re not real, but people won’t believe it,” says Azzawi, a pretty 20-year-old [whose mother was in Abu Ghraib prison], holding up the paper with a shaking hand. “Who’s going to marry their daughters after they see a thing like that. …

The material and fake photographs found on Web sites are loathsome, inflammatory, racist, and ridiculously exaggerated.

But it has become — from what we know about reactions in Turkey — a part of the mythos of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

As the CSM‘s article points out, “photos — even if fake — spark rumors that hit family honor.”

Foremost among the serious journalistic efforts is the reporting of Suzanne Goldenberg, U.S. correspondent for The Guardian.

Ms. Goldenberg — whose Guardian article, “US soldiers accused of sex assaults,” appeared March 8, 2005 — was a guest on today’s Democracy Now!:

On International Women’s Day, Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg broke the story about how soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade accused of rape were able to escape the charges. The soldiers were from the same military unit whose troops fired on the car carrying freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena. …

It began: “Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade — the same military unit whose troops fired on the car carrying freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena — were under investigation last year for raping Iraqi women, U.S. Army documents reveal. Four soldiers were alleged to have raped two women while on guard duty in a Baghdad shopping precinct. A U.S. Army investigator interviewed several soldiers from the military unit, the 1-15th battalion of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, but did not locate or interview the Iraqi women involved before shutting down the inquiry for lack of evidence.

“Transcripts of the investigation, obtained by the Guardian from the American Civil Liberties Union, show only the most cursory attempts by the investigator to establish whether the women were raped. The soldiers claimed the women were prostitutes, or denied any knowledge of anyone in their unit having sex while deployed in Iraq. The statements went largely unchallenged. “I know the women were Iraqi. I however don’t know if they were raped, or were prostitutes, or just wanted sex,” one soldier told investigators.

Most astonishingly, Ms. Goldenberg told Amy Goodman:

[T]he investigators did not locate the women. They did not question the women. When you read through these files, which essentially are transcripts of interviews that the investigating officers held with – with soldiers who were — or officers who were there, you know, you notice that the soldiers will say — will sort of respond in the negative, and they will not — often there will not be follow-up questions.

Their statements will not be challenged. The interviews are not very rigorous, and that’s a pattern that is — has become evident in the large amounts of documents that have been obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. That’s like hundreds or actually thousands of pages of documents.

Can you imagine conducting an investigation of any kind without locating and interviewing the victims?

In May 2004, Ms. Goldenberg was reporting this story:

The scandal at Abu Ghraib prison was first exposed not by a digital photograph but by a letter. In December 2003, a woman prisoner inside the jail west of Baghdad managed to smuggle out a note. Its contents were so shocking that, at first, Amal Kadham Swadi and the other Iraqi women lawyers who had been trying to gain access to the US jail found them hard to believe.

The note claimed that US guards had been raping women detainees, … Several of the women were now pregnant, it added. The women had been forced to strip naked in front of men, it said. The note urged the Iraqi resistance to bomb the jail to spare the women further shame.

Late last year, Swadi, one of seven female lawyers now representing women detainees in Abu Ghraib, began to piece together a picture of systemic abuse and torture perpetrated by US guards against Iraqi women held in detention without charge. [It was] “happening all across Iraq“.

In November last year, Swadi visited a woman detainee at a US military base at al-Kharkh. … “She was the only woman who would talk about her case. She was crying. She told us she had been raped. Several American soldiers had raped her. She had tried to fight them off and they had hurt her arm. She showed us the stitches. She told us, ‘We have daughters and husbands. For God’s sake don’t tell anyone about this.'”

Astonishingly, the secret inquiry launched by the US military in January, headed by Major General Antonio Taguba, has confirmed that the letter smuggled out of Abu Ghraib by a woman known only as “Noor” was entirely and devastatingly accurate.

I have nothing to say. Except to add this from Amnesty International:

Amnesty International equally calls on the US-led multinational forces to improve safeguards for women in detention and investigate promptly all allegations of violence against women, including sexual attacks by their forces or other agents.
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