2nd woman claims Iraqis raped her

February 23, 2007|By Borzou Daragahi and Ruaa Zarary | Borzou Daragahi and Ruaa Zarary,LOS ANGELES TIMES

MOSUL, IRAQ -- A second Iraqi woman emerged yesterday leveling charges of rape against Iraqi security forces, further breaking an entrenched taboo here about disclosing sexual violence and further undermining public perceptions about the security forces.

The Sunni woman alleged that Shiite soldiers raided her house in the northern city of Tall Afar, interrogated her and raped her repeatedly while videotaping their actions. She said the soldiers also threatened to assault her two teenage daughters before one of them intervened.

Her case and that of another woman who earlier this week said she had been raped have stirred outrage in Iraq concerning an often hushed-up crime that is said to have occurred frequently before the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. The former government's security forces systematically raped Iraqi women, according to local and international human rights activists.

"Before, when Iraqi women were subject to rape they at least knew who was doing it," said Zainab Nomani, a Shiite lawyer and human rights activist who heads an organization that helps victims of sexual violence.

A videotape of the woman, wrapped in a black all-covering abaya and speaking toward the camera, appeared yesterday on Sharqiya, a popular Sunni-controlled Iraqi television station. Her voice was not broadcast.

About 150 residents of this northern city held a demonstration yesterday morning denouncing the government's treatment of the rape accusations.

On Monday, a 20-year-old woman in the Iraqi capital calling herself Sabreen alleged in a television interview that she had been raped by three Iraqi police officers during a weekend raid of her west Baghdad neighborhood.

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected her allegations, praised the police officers and labeled Sabreen a liar and insurgent collaborator.

In an audio recording posted to the Internet, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq claimed that hundreds of volunteers have asked to take part in suicide attacks after hearing news of Sabreen's rape.

Sabreen's allegations raised suspicions of a well-timed effort by Sunni Arabs to sabotage public faith in a joint U.S.-Iraqi security ramp-up that began last week. But the allegations of the woman from the northern city of Tall Afar, a Sunni member of Iraq's Turkoman minority, don't fit neatly into such a scenario.

Borzou Daragahi and Ruaa Zarary write for the Los Angeles Times.

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