I'm sure you've all heard about the 20-year-old Sabreen al-Janabi, a Sunni woman who said that had been raped by US-supported Iraqi soldiers during the ongoing Operation Law & Order, suprisingly, there hasn't been much activity regarding the topic on the Iraqi blogosphere, with the exception of the predictable post by Truth About Iraqis, and a rare appearance by superstar Riverbend.
Before I add my own opinion regarding the topic, here is a special treat, I have spent the better part of yesterday adding subtitles to the video and I have put it now live on YouTube here:
There has been much debate regarding those claims, it eventually boiled down to this headline: "Rape or Not, Depends on whether you're Sunni or Shiite", nobody bothers to examine the evidence, as everyone immediately reads every news item in his own particular agenda, the very dangerous essence of civil war.
First let us examine the evidence supporting the claim:
It is not unlikely for Iraqi soldiers to commit such acts, It is my own personal belief that Iraqi soldiers are usually worse than US soldiers, and it would be a typical and quite in-character act if they broke into a house and found a woman alone to rape her. The woman's story was detailed and it had emotion in it, when I first saw her, I found her convincing.
Nothing much to add above that.
But as I sat down to translate it, which makes me in direct contact with every sentence and every nuance, all the fishiness came in the way.
First, like dear Riverbend here would say, it is highly unusual for an Iraqi woman to appear on television and to tell a story of her own rape. It is an emotional hellride and it brings shame to the entire family and tribe, usually when a woman is raped, she is silent, ostracized and may be even killed by her own family to spare her of the shame, the matter is settled through tribal feuds and war. Riverbend goes on to expostulate that this exemplifies Sabreen's own personal bravery. But I beg to differ, first, the girl's accent is very countryside, and those people usually stick to the traditions I mentioned above, they don't think in such a way of exposing the truth live in front of millions of viewers, all they care about is to silence the matter. Sometimes they would hold public mourning ceremonies, as if she was actually dead. Had the girl been educated or civil maybe her and her family would have felt compelled to talk about it. But Sabreen not only told her story pubicly and on al-Jazeera, of all stations, she actually had the nerve to recount very graphic details of her rape without the expected emotionality - no self-respecting tradition-abiding parent-observing girl would talk about her rape in the very graphic and vulgar way that she did, she literally said 'he grabbed my tit' without any difficulty, and then she said what can be loosely translated as something the feel of 'I'm not one of them bitches'. No woman would talk like this in front of her parents, let alone the world. I myself woud probably kill my sister if she talked like this, well not kill, but you get the emotion. Third, the timing of the rape seemed very controversial, right in the middle of the security plan, the claim could be bolstered if one knows that Sabreen al-Janabi's father have links with al-Qaeda, check out this news item.
I thought that al-Maliki's reaction was somewhat fishy as well, had it been outright denial it would've reminded me of the way Baqir Solagh denied the Badr Corps out-in-the-open crimes and is something the diplomacy of our Iraqi government is made of, had the rape actually occured, why would al-Maliki deny it and bring to himself a whole extra mess of troubles, and on top of that reward the rapists? The fact is that he didn't deny it at first, the initial statement seemed intent on finding those responsible and having maximum penalites inflicted upon them, al-Maliki was trying to send the message that he knows such things could happen and that his soldiers aren't the stuff of angels, something Riverbend/TAI neglected to mention.
Rape is common, and what it occurs, the family distance itself from the woman, especially if they are a traditional family, it is very rare that you would hear of a story of a woman raped, and when it does get out in the open, the family is not very intent on talking about it everywhere, for instance, here is a 22-year-old Christian woman, Luana, whose story is almost identical to Sabreen, she is Christian, she doesn't hold necessary those severe traditions regarding rape, and yet even she wasn't so compelled to talk about it. All I heard of her was a small story on IraqiSlogger. The fact that she was Christian might also explain why nobody cared about her.
No, Sabreen's story is very fishy, her actions un-Iraqi, and her story is clearly orchestrated for maximum effect, check out the part where she says: 'I asked them why are chasing women? and he replies: This is mut3a', in my subtitles, I overlooked this and simply translated mut3a literally 'leisure', but the word has other connotations: Mut'a marriage is a controversial Shiite-only practice where a man and a woman have an Islamically-correct marrige that only lasts for hours or days, Sunnis regard this similar to people who want to commit adultery and finding a loophole in their Islam contract, anti-Shiite slanders are for example: The Son of Mut3a. Her metnion of the word reminded me of the huge clearly false allegations over a fake Muqtada al-Sadr statement about a group of women who want to have group mut3a with Mahdi Army fighters in Shiite mosques so that they be 'zealous for killing Sunnis'.
Give me a break!
and as usual the Arab nation did the usual uproar, Adnan al-Dulaymi trembled like a teapot, Mish'aan al-Juboori re-broadcast the clip 25/7, and the media war rages on and on.