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‘Many women’ languish in U.S., Iraqi jails

Azzaman

Azzaman, December 6, 2006

An Iraqi female minister has urged the ministries of interior and defense as well the U.S. occupation troops to apply international law procedures when dealing jailed women in Iraq.

The call from Minister of State Fatin Mahmoud is the first official admission that that the number of incarcerated Iraqi women is increasing and that their conditions are worsening.

Mahmoud’s revelation contradicts earlier Iraqi and U.S. reports that there were no women in their jails in the country.

Mahamoud declined to give a figure of the number of Iraqi women behind bars but doubted whether the jailers were applying basic human rights in their dealings with them.

"There are many women in jail," she said, asking U.S. and Iraqi authorities to immediately work on improving their conditions.

It is not clear what prompted Mahmoud to speak out but analysts said the numbers of Iraqis whether women or men jailed without trial has surged recently.

Stories abound in Baghdad and other cities of U.S. Marines and Iraqi troops arresting wives of suspected rebels or insurgents.

So far both the U.S. and the government have denied the existence of women prisoners in Iraq, fearing a backlash from the country’s traditionally conservative society.

Tribal bonds are strong in Iraq and under tribal tradition women are innocent no matter what their spouses or relatives do. In fact protection of women belonging to opposing groups is a matter of pride and honor which no tribe would contemplate breaching.

But U.S. troops have apparently overlooked these restrictions.

As for Iraqi troops, there are reports of massive violations aimed specifically at women suspected of either aiding the rebels or being related to them.

There are reports of women being raped or tortured to extract confessions on rebel activities.

Mahmoud, the minister, said she was "extremely worried" to hear human rights reports speaking of "great numbers of women" being jailed in Iraq.

"I urge all the concerned authorities with women prisoners to expedite the processing of their papers and have them set free as soon as possible," she said.


:: Article nr. 28822 sent on 07-dec-2006 03:21 ECT

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Link: www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news\\2006-12-06\\kurd1.htm



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