Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | July 16, 2003

Rapes rise, respect declines for police in Baghdad

By Steve Gilliard

The BBC has an interesting pair of stories on their site.

Baghdad sexual violence 'rising'

By Pam O'Toole
BBC regional analyst

Sexual attacks have increased in Baghdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a new report.

The US-based Human Rights Watch says the rise in sexual violence is driving women indoors, and preventing them from taking part in Iraq's public life at a crucial time.


And for the first time, there are reports of girls and women being abducted from the street, sometimes in broad daylight.

Trafficking fears

"I spoke to one woman who was 23 years old. She had been snatched from the street while walking with her mother and sisters," said HRW researcher Johanna Bjorken, who visited Baghdad to investigate.

"She was held overnight and raped.

Difficult position

The Coalition Provision Authority (CPA) acknowledges that not all Iraqi policemen have been armed.

But they say that, eventually, all those who need arms to carry out the duties will be issued with weapons.

A woman who was among the first to gather around us, followed me to the car.

"They are all corrupt," she said referring to the policemen.

"All were informers for the Baath party," she added.

So, the picture you get here is of a total breakdown of trust.

The rank and file policemen do not trust the Americans and the people here do not trust the police.

Security is still elusive for the average Iraqi and they have little faith in the local police, who many see either as Baath collaborators, American collaborators or just plain old crooks.

If the police do not step in, the clerics and their militias will. The kidnapping of women violates so many cultural taboos that a reaction has to be expected. If the state cannot police the streets, the militias will and that, as has been said before, starts the slide to civil war.

Posted July 16, 2003 12:05 AM


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