Azzawi is part of a secret sisterhood: her mother is one of three women inside Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison where US soldiers took smiling snapshots of themselves sadistically humiliating Iraqis. That's why some anonymous ill-wisher slipped a newspaper with the rape photos on the front page under her front door. The pictures in the paper are fakes, bad copies lifted from a porn website and now ricocheting around the Internet. But in Iraq, where the photos circulate on floppy discs and CDs and splash across newspapers and TV screens, most people believe them. What makes the counterfeit photos so searing, for her, is the fear that they might hold some truth. Among the 1, or so pictures taken by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib, there are others, viewed by Congress but not released to the public, of at least one Iraqi woman forced to bare her breasts. And a US military investigator, Maj. Antonio Taguba, cited at least one case of a military police guard "having sex with" a female prisoner. Thousands of Iraqi prisoners of war remain in custody in the prison.
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May 28, The pictures would horrify anyone: hooded US soldiers raping and torturing naked Iraqi women at gunpoint. But for Farah al-Azzawi, these blurry photos burn with agony and shame. Azzawi is part of a secret sisterhood: her mother is one of three women inside Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison where US soldiers took smiling snapshots of themselves sadistically humiliating Iraqis. That's why some anonymous ill-wisher slipped a newspaper with the rape photos on the front page under her front door.
In opening arguments here at the court martial for the accused soldier, Specialist Charles A. Graner, his lawyer insisted he was simply following orders, and using lessons he had learned in his civilian life as a prison guard to try to maintain discipline in a chaotic war zone. Using naked and hooded detainees to make a human pyramid was much like what cheerleaders "all over America" do at football games, the lawyer, Guy Womack, argued. Putting naked prisoners on leashes was much like what parents in airports and malls do with their toddlers: "They're not being abused," the lawyer told the jury of 10 soldiers, "they're being kept in control. But prosecutors called other soldiers who testified that Specialist Graner had laughed and joked even as detainees moaned, screamed, and pleaded with him to stop beating them.
Most of the coverage of abuse at Abu Ghraib has focused on male detainees. But what of the five women held in the jail, and the scores elsewhere in Iraq? The scandal at Abu Ghraib prison was first exposed not by a digital photograph but by a letter. In December , a woman prisoner inside the jail west of Baghdad managed to smuggle out a note. Its contents were so shocking that, at first, Amal Kadham Swadi and the other Iraqi women lawyers who had been trying to gain access to the US jail found them hard to believe. The note claimed that US guards had been raping women detainees, who were, and are, in a small minority at Abu Ghraib. Several of the women were now pregnant, it added. The women had been forced to strip naked in front of men, it said.