Sunday, August 30, 2009

WWB: rape and sexual torture

WHAT WAR BRINGS: rape and sexual torture

One of the uglier aspects of wars and occupations is the rape of men, women and children. It is always a part of wars and occupations, and it is mainly the civilians who are the victims. The rapists might be the invading/occupying military, the authorities put in power by the occupation forces, the militias or military of the invaded country, or just the thug down the street. When security leaves an area, all sorts of evil things happen. The act of rape can happen anywhere, and anyone could end up the victim, although women and children are particularly vulnerable. The point of rape and sexual torture is to both harm the victim physically and to harm them emotionally. Generally this means to harm them to the point where they can no longer function.

Rape is an instrument of war. Sexual torture and sexual humiliation are instruments of war.

Of course, the vast majority of rape incidents go unreported in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And of what is reported, I have only included a few samples.

We have all heard about Steve Green and the rape of a young Iraqi girl, after her parents and sister were murdered. The rape victim was also murdered and they attempted to burn her body. That is an act of a group of men who have abandoned morality and inflicted their sadistic wishes on someone else. While I am certain this act was not the only one of its nature, that is not what I am covering here. I am covering the use of rape as an act of war, or the increase in rape because of a war.

The most striking example was Abu Ghraib. The photos that we have seen show forced nudity, forced masturbation, and forced sexual acts on another prisoner. We have seen the photos of the naked man on the end of a dog chain, and the piles of naked men. We have heard the reports of sodomizing these prisoners. But that is just the start of the use of rape, sexual torture and sexual humiliation, as a weapon of war. Even before Abu Ghraib, there was clear evidence of sexual torture and rape going on by the British forces in Iraq.

Sexual Terrorism

Surprising to many, nearly a year before Abu Ghraib was exposed, in May 2003, British private Gary Bartlam, previously stationed in Basra and the port of Umm Qasr, was arrested in his hometown of Tamworth, Staffordshire. He had brought in a roll of pictures he shot in Iraq to his local photo-developer for processing. A shocked clerk, after reviewing the shots, called the police. Among his photos were:

* a picture showing an Iraqi man being forced to perform oral sex on a (white) man;

* a picture showing two Iraqis apparently being forced to perform anal sex;

* a picture showing two naked Iraqis cowering on the ground.

A flabbergasted Bartlam told the police that he took the shots to show his mom what was going on in Iraq.

One has to wonder what kind of home life those folks have. Ministry of Truth did a diary on this subject – the rape of children in Iraq.

Children tortured before parents, raped, all covered up by Bush/Cheney and our media

A couple more reports, this time from Taguba.

Rape Photos not at issue in lawsuit – but they do exist

The charge that President Obama, in the ACLU lawsuit, is blocking the release of photos that depict such horrific acts, appears to be untrue. But on the more important, underlying issue, Taguba seems to have confirmed that he's seen photos showing US soldiers raping and sexually abusing Iraqi detainees, both male and female -- and therefore that such things occurred.

Taguba Saw "Video of Male Soldier Sodomizing Female Detainee"

In 2007, shortly after he was forced into retirement, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba made a startling admission. During the course of his investigation into the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Taguba said he saw "a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee." Taguba told New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh that he saw other graphic photos and videos as well, including one depicting the "sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees."

And it happened in Guantanamo Bay.

Sexual Terrorism

Such interrogation practices were not limited to Iraq. According to a report in the “Sydney Morning Hearld”: “Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account.”

And the US mercenaries got in on the action too. In this example, Blackwater actually recruited young girls to act as prostitutes. Since these are underage girls, that is statutory rape, or worse.

Ex-employees claim Blackwater pimped out young Iraqi girls

The declarations describe Blackwater as “having young girls provide oral sex to Enterprise members in the ‘Blackwater Man Camp’ in exchange for one American dollar.” They add even though Prince frequently visited this camp, he “failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men.”

In Iraq, we have lots of examples of sexual torture and rape done by US forces or US mercenaries. I did not find any recent reports of rapes done by Iraqis themselves, but I did find several older reports.

Rape’s vast toll in Iraq war remains largely ignored

As though recoiling from her own memories, Khalida shrank deeper into her faded armchair with each sentence she told: of how gunmen apparently working for Iraq's Interior Ministry kidnapped her, beat and raped her; of how they discarded her on a Baghdad sidewalk.

…. Rape is a common weapon of any war; no one knows how many Iraqi women have been raped since the war began in 2003. Most crimes against women "are not reported because of stigma, fear of retaliation, or lack of confidence in the police," MADRE, an international women's rights group, wrote in its 2007 report about violence against women in Iraq. Some women, like Khalida, are raped by Iraqi security forces. A 2005 report published by the Iraqi National Association for Human Rights found that women held in Interior Ministry detention centers endure "systematic rape by the investigators."

In Iraq, a story of rape, shame and honor killing

A young woman imprisoned in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, sent a letter to her brother last summer, appealing for help. The woman, named Dalal, wrote that she was pregnant after being raped by prison guards. The brother asked to visit her. Guards obliged. The brother walked into her cell, drew a gun and shot his visibly pregnant sister dead.

…… At the employee's insistence, lab workers using freshly acquired DNA-testing equipment drew a sample from the fetus. The prison guards were ordered to submit DNA samples and did so, apparently unaware of the sophistication of the morgue equipment and the people trained to use it. "They thought we were incapable of figuring it out," said the morgue employee. The DNA results showed that the father of the unborn baby was a police lieutenant colonel who reportedly supervised guards at the prison.

The rapist was (apparently) not punished.

And beyond rape, there is sexual torture. And forced diapering and forced enemas were part of the sexual torture done by the CIA, at least that is Digby’s assessment (and I completely agree):

Diapers

This stuff is actually one of many sick, psychosexual techniques that were used on prisoners under the assumption that "teh ayrabs" were especially a-scared of the dirty dirty. The manly men of the Vice President's sadism corps knew exactly what to do (and anyway, the torturers probably needed to blow off some steam --- it's a stressful job.)

And then there is Afghanistan.

I have not found any reports of US mercenaries or US forces engaging in rape or sexual torture in Afghanistan (but I am sure it exists to some degree). But there are plenty of examples of Afghan authorities CURRENTLY engaging in the rape of women, young girls and young boys.

AFGHANISTAN: Call for tougher laws on rape

“In some areas, alleged or convicted rapists are, or have links to, powerful commanders, members of illegal armed groups, or criminal gangs, as well as powerful individuals whose influence protects them from arrest and prosecution,” said the report entitled Silence is Violence, launched in Kabul on 8 July. “Women and girls are at risk of rape in their homes, their communities and in detention facilities,” it said.

Sometimes in Afghanistan, the rape issue is settled by forcing the rapist to marry his victim. In other cases, a girl is handed off to the victim’s family for one of the sons of that family, and thereby a rape victim is ‘appeased’ by another rape victim. This makes no flipping sense to me. But that is hardly the worst of it. In Afghanistan, the Afghan police are known (and hated) for their policies of raping young boys. They would kidnap them and bring them to their stations, and keep them there until they tired of them.

Child rapist police return behind US, UK troops

The police in the province, who are linked to the local warlord, have committed systematic abuses against the population, including the abduction and rape of pre-teen boys, according to village elders who met with British officers.

Here is a photo of one rape victim in Afghanistan. This was found on RAWA’s website (see above).

Caption: Anisa, twelve, sits weeping next to her crying father. Anisa was gang-raped by five men some months back. “I want the criminals to be hung,” she says weeping. Child rapes have risen sharply in recent years, according to Afghanistan’s Human Rights Organisation (AHRO), which claims most of the sexual assaults are carried out by government officials and other powerful men.

Rape – the most vulnerable victims of corruption

The rich and powerful in Afghanistan are known to rape women and young girls with impunity. The government's inability to stop these horrors have only encouraged those in positions of authority to continue abusing Afghanistan's most vulnerable. Last year, the son of a member of the Afghan National Assembly raped an eight-year-old girl. On the basis of Afghan law, he should have been severely punished. But the victim's family claims that the rapist had connections with local authorities. Rather than submitting to punishment, he was able to have his tazkira (ID card) illegally altered, making him younger than he actually was and ineligible for a rape charge. This change allowed him to avoid being punished for the crime the girl's family says he committed. Mooneseh Rahimi of the Law Institute of Kabul, says this happens all the time.

AND WHAT IS REALLY SAD – WHAT IS REALLY, REALLY SICKENING –

is that while rape itself was not ‘authorized’ by the US authorities, the threat of rape and forced long term nudity were US policy. And when someone took it too far, no one was punished, no one was reprimanded, and it was just ignored or overlooked. We will never, ever know the full extend of it.

What is acknowledged and what remains unknown

“Removal of clothing was authorized by the Secretary of Defense [Rumsfeld] for use at GTMO [Guantánamo] on December 2, 2002,” acknowledges the recently released U.S. Senate Armed Service Committee report on the use of harsh interrogation techniques. It also reports that the use of prolonged nudity proved so effective that, in January 2003, it was approved for use in Afghanistan and, in the fall of 2003, was adopted for use in Iraq.

“Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody”

….. Scotland’s “Sunday Herald” reported that a former Iraqi prisoner claimed that there is a photo of a civilian translator raping a male juvenile prisoner; he stated, “They covered all the doors with sheets. I heard the screaming, … and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

London’s “Independent” reported on the experience of Hayder Sabbar Abd, immortalized as the man in the hood in infamous Abu Ghraib photo of Lynndie England. Abd alleges that he was ordered to masturbate as Ms. England “put her hands on her breasts," which he couldn’t; and to simulate fellatio with another prisoner, which he appears to have done.

The “Sydney Morning Herald” noted: “Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account.”

CIA threats to detainees' families exposed

An internal CIA report published yesterday reveals a host of incidents in which its interrogators went far beyond acceptable bounds, including threatening an al-Qaida leader that his children would be killed and hinting to another suspect that his mother would be raped in front of him.

Is The USA A Sick Country Or What?

Remember this when you hear about torture tactics that we are learning were used by our side--things that make waterboarding sound like a walk in the park. We're now getting confirmation of things that we journalists were hearing rumors of earlier: faked executions using blanks, faked executions in neighboring rooms, followed by threats of the same to a person who had just heard the screams and a shot in the cell next to him, threats with an electric drill, and now perhaps the worst yet--the threat to kill a captive's children. And of course there is the already disclosed case of a captive who had his genitals cut with a razor, and generous use of tasers in places on the body designed to cause maximum pain. That, and of course there are a lot raped captives (including young boys), and a lot of bodies yet to be dug up of captives who were simply killed during torture.

And, so far, no one has been brought to justice for the vast majorities of these rapes and incidents of sexual torture. I doubt that we could bring Iraqis or Afghans to justice, but it sure seems to me that we could bring AMERICANS and EMPLOYEES OF AMERICAN COMPANIES to justice for these evil crimes.

I don’t see that happening, even with the appointment of a special prosecutor. They might prosecute some of the lower level “bad apples” like they did with Abu Ghraib, but clearly that is but a small part of the problem.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: rape and sexual torture.

Prayers for the victims……and may the criminals be brought to justice.