New Iraq

Friday, 22 August 2008

By Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent

— It was eight o’clock in the morning when Fadia (not her real name), received an unexpected visit in her home.

Her children, who were still asleep, awoke to the hysterical screaming of their mom.

Fadia, a recently-graduating biologist, was told by the guest that her husband had been kidnapped by militants and she had to pay 10,000 dollars to have him back home.

But, he said, she had to first make a visit to someone who would like to explain which steps she had to take to save her husband's life.

"I wore my abaya, washed my face and took the children to my neighbor without saying a single word," said Fadia, 26.

"I was in shock and the only thing I had in mind was my husband."

Two men drove her to a place near Baghdad's Sadr City, but a few minutes from the destination, she was forced to cover her eyes and stay at sleeping position in the back seat.

"In a moment the car stopped, everything changed. The way they were speaking with me moved from being kind to tough," she remembered.

Fadia walked into a house and her eyes were uncovered. She was told to wait for the ‘boss’.

"I was scared and it worsened when a man with an ugly appearance appeared in the room and directly asked if I had a way to get the money to pay for my husband’s life," she said.

"I started to cry and say we were from a simple family and what we get from our work wasn’t enough to pay our bills."


Fadia was than taken to a side room where she saw her husband being beaten and with blood covering his face.

Desperate, she started to scream for help but was slapped on the face and told to shut up.

"In this moment the tragedy really started," Fadia said with tears strolling down her cheeks.

"The man said there was a way to pay for my husband’s liberty as well as mine and told me to take my clothes off and lay down on the floor," she added, fighting back the bitter memory.

"I fought against him for a while but later discovered that I didn’t have a choice and was raped by four militants who after all disgusting things they did to me drove me back home with my husband."

As if that was not enough to scar her life for ever, Fadia's husband immediately decided to divorce.

"He said he preferred to die than continue to be married to an impure woman," she said.

"I saved his life but couldn’t save mine after six years of marriage."


Hala (not her real name) is another clear example of this continued tragic sexual abuse.

Having her husband in the hands of militants for four months, she has been repeatedly abused inside her small house.

"I’m ashamed to talk about my problem but I have to sound the alarm for the world to help hundreds of women in Iraq under the same circumstance," she said.

"At least two times a week, some men come to my house and have sex with me despite my appeals to them to stop," added a tearful Hala, 31.

"If my two kids are home, they are forced to stay inside the bathroom until they finish. There are days I cannot look into their eyes."

In exchange for the sex, Hala is allowed to talk to her kidnapped husband.

"The only evidence I have that he’s still alive is that every two weeks they allow me to speak with him on the phone," she explains.

"I can feel from his voice that he might be sick."

Rights activists regret Fadia and Hala's cases are no exception, with many women being abused to save the lives of their husbands.

"In the history of this country, women have never been abused like now," said Mayada Zuhair, an activist and advisor for the Women Rights Ministry.

"Even under a dictatorial regime, Saddam Hussein was clear in his fight for women rights and protection but now we are nothing but animals," she said.

"Each woman abused in Iraq is a degradation to all women rights in the world. They give what they have most precious to save the lives of their loved ones and most of the times aren’t understood," Zuhair regretted.

"After five years of invasion, Iraqi women have lost rights rather than got space and respect."

In a report marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion, Amnesty International said violence against women and girls has increased dramatically, with many forced to leave their jobs or schools.

"Women and girls are at risk of rape by armed groups and members of the Iraqi security forces. Domestic violence and 'honor killings' are on the rise too."

A World Health Organization survey conducted in 2006/2007 found that 21.2 percent of Iraqi women had experienced physical violence.

In central and southern Iraq 22.7 percent of women reported at least one form of physical abuse, whereas in Kurdistan the figure was 10.9 percent.


Unfortunately, besides being forced into sex to save kidnapped husbands, other women enter a life of prostitution to feed their children.

"My husband is unemployed and I have four children to feed," said Hiba (not her real name).

"I worked for many years as housekeeper but things got very expensive here and what I earn is not enough to support the home for more than five days," she added.

"I tell my husband that I’m going to clean up houses but the truth is that I go out to sell my body."

Hiba goes to the central market everyday, with her abaya covering up a woman in full make-up, which she only reveals to a propitious client.

"They pay me from 5 to 8 dollars. Usually I have to have relation with at least two men so I can buy enough food for home," she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"I know it is against all my religious and social principles but I cannot stay at home without money, waiting for my children to die from hunger," said Hiba.

"I’m a mother and whatever I have to do to save their lives, I will do it.

"Tears do not fall any more from my eyes. The US invasion removed Saddam but brought agony, suffering, desperation and death."

According to Yanar Mohammad, the president of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, women are forced to sell their bodies.

"The war made hundreds of women lose their soul and dignity," Mohammad said.

"Our lives have turned into a very delicate situation where being victims of violence isn’t important and seen as part of the US-invasion five years ago," she added.

"We have to fight against this sad reality and that’s why we have founded this activist group to help the sufferers and try to open new doors in their lives."

Posted by hAiRiL/spiderman_pink at 23:32  


menyampah dgn si bushok tu..
what a mess he made, of people's life ;(

May Allah save them and bring them peace soon.. Ameen.

madame blossom said...
23 August 2008 at 12:47 am  

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