"One torture technique favored by Saddam's henchman and his sons involved raping a detainee's mother or sister in front of him until he talked. In Saddam's torture chambers women, when not tortured and raped, spent years in dark jails. If lucky, their suckling children were allowed to be with them. In most cases, however, these children were considered a nuisance to be disposed of; mass graves currently being uncovered contain many corpses of children buried alive with their mothers.
During Saddam's war with Iran, nearly an entire generation of Iraqi men were killed, injured or captured, leaving a dearth of men of military age in Iraqi society. As a result, Saddam launched 'fertility campaigns' that forcibly administered fertility drugs to school girls as young as 10 in an effort to drive up the population rate.
After the Gulf War--particularly after crushing the Shiite and Kurdish uprisings of 1991--Saddam reverted to tribal and 'Islamic' traditions as a means to consolidate power. Iraqi women paid the heaviest price for his new-found piety. Many women were removed from government jobs and were not allowed to travel without the permission of a male relative. Men were exempted from punishment for 'honor' killings--killings carried out on female relatives who had supposedly 'shamed' their family. An estimated 4,000 women died from honor killings in the ensuing years. By 2000, Iraqi women, once considered the most highly educated in the Middle East, had literacy levels of only 23%.
Under the pretext of fighting prostitution in 2000, Saddam's Fedayeen forces beheaded 200 women 'dissidents' and dumped their head on their families doorsteps for public display. These women obviously lost whatever 'rights' granted to them once they got in Saddam's way.
Saddam Hussein was an equal opportunity killer who tortured, raped and gassed men, women and children alike. From Dujail in the South (the murder of hundreds of villagers for which he is on trial now) to the chemical obliteration of Halabja in the North, all Iraqis bore the brunt of the tyrant's wrath."
Monday, May 08, 2006
A. Yasmine Rassam: