In case General Petraeus runs out of time before testifying to Congress about the experiences of Iraqi women, here’s what human rights organizations think you should know:
According to the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq [OWFI], “lack of personal security” is the biggest problem facing Iraqi women since the post Sept. 11 invasion:
Rape has dramatically increased in the social chaos following the US invasion. In the first four months of occupation, OWFI collected 400 accounts of rape and abduction. ‘Honor killings’ of rape survivors by male family members have increased as the incidence of rape has risen. . . .
Since the US invaded Iraq, women there have endured a wave of death threats, assassinations, abductions, public beatings, targeted sexual assaults, and public hangings. . . . In much of Iraq, women are virtually confined to their homes because of the likelihood of being beaten, raped, or abducted in the streets. As the occupying power, the US was obligated by the Hague and Geneva Conventions to provide security to Iraqi civilians, including protection from violence against women. But the US military, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the reign of terror that Islamist militias were imposing on women. In fact, the US enabled these attacks: in 2005, the Pentagon began providing the Shiite Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army with weapons, money, and military training in the hope that these groups would help combat the Sunni-based insurgency.