"She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever."

River at Baghdad Burning returns with an absolutely soul-wrenching account of an Iraqi woman going public with her story of being gang-raped by American-trained Iraqi security forces.

She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name. Hearing her tell her story physically makes my heart ache. Some people will call her a liar. Others (including pro-war Iraqis) will call her a prostitute- shame on you in advance.

…"One of them threw me on the ground and my head hit the tiles. He did what he did—I mean he raped me. The second one came and raped me. The third one also raped me. [Pause—sobbing] I begged them and cried, and one of them covered my mouth. [Unclear, crying] Another one of them came and said, 'Are you finished? We also want our turn'."

…I look at this woman and I can’t feel anything but rage. What did we gain? I know that looking at her, foreigners will never be able to relate. They’ll feel pity and maybe some anger, but she’s one of us. She’s not a girl in jeans and a t-shirt so there will only be a vague sort of sympathy. Poor third-world countries—that is what their womenfolk tolerate. Just know that we never had to tolerate this before. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets. That time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too.

She’s just one of tens, possibly hundreds, of Iraqi women who are violated in their own homes and in Iraqi prisons.
This woman, Sabrine Al-Janabi, was taken from her home. She was raped multiple times and then beaten before she was raped some more. What devastates me is knowing that we did this. We turned another country into a place where women are regularly pulled from their homes and gang-raped. And it doesn't matter what you believe our intentions were in Iraq—whether you're convinced it was all about the oil or convinced it was a necessary part of the war on terror—and it doesn't matter how you feel about the war now—whether you hate it with every ounce of your being or support it just as passionately—and it doesn't matter what forward-moving plan you endorse—whether you're calling for a withdrawal or adding more troops—in other words, it just doesn't matter what your feelings about the war are or what your goddamned political persuasion is: You can't ignore that this is what we've done. Just know that we never had to tolerate this before. This is the reality of what we've created there, and intentions just don't matter. The only question we need to ask is how are we ever going to account for it?

If you're asking any other question besides that, like maybe, "How do we know this story is true?"—this story, of a woman who risks her life by telling it, one of so many stories just like it that it is as useful as allegory as truth—then you need to go see Driftglass.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus