Serving in a Rape Zone

By Allison Tobey


“Several” female soldiers died of dehydration in Iraq because they did not drink liquids in the afternoons in an effort to avoid going to the latrines at night, where they were afraid male soldiers would rape them. The news broke several months ago, when in January 2006, Col. Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib, testified at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration that the female soldiers died of dehydration while sleeping at Camp Victory, an army base near Baghdad.
As reported by Majorie Cohn (Karpinski’s interviewer during the Bush Commission) in www.truthout.org, Karpinski stated that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior U.S. military commander in Iraq, ordered that “dehydration” no longer be listed as the cause of death on the death certificates of the women. Because of this, the exact number of women who died because they were afraid they would be raped can’t be determined. According to Cohn, Karpinski explained in a September 2004 interview to U.S. Army Col. David Hackworth, “There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night.”


In 2004, Christine Hansen of the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting victims of violence in the military, reported that according to the Department of Defense, “A survey conducted by researchers within the Veterans’ Administration concluded that one third of female service members deployed during Desert Storm and Desert Shield were challenged by physical sexual harassment, with 13 out of 160 respondents reporting sexual assault. The comparative analysis conducted by the researchers indicated that the rate was a tenfold increase above the civilian rate during the same time period.” Camp Victory proves no different, as Karpinski also said in another interview that 83 incidents of sexual assault had been reported in Iraq and Kuwait within a six-month period. How is it that these numbers went unnoticed and disregarded by the military, leaving women in the trenches vulnerable, unprotected, to the point of fatally endangering their health?


The answer to this question is found in the Army’s response: as Karpinski revealed to Cohn, Sanchez stated,“The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory.” m

 

 

     
     
 
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