Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sex trafficking was unknown under Saddam? 
I just noticed this, in Time Magazine, and it pissed me off:

A Western official in Baghdad who monitors the status of women in Iraq thinks that figure may be inflated but admits that sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent under Saddam, has become a serious issue.

Of course, dumbass!!! Why bother with sex trafficking when under Saddam you could commit rape with impunity?

I had translators who grew up in Ramadi tell me about Uday's depradations: He would ride into a wedding party with his entourage, his goons would stick weapons in men's faces, and he would take whatever girls he fancied with him. The girls were usually not seen again. Apparently it happened regularly.

And it wasn't just Uday.

Awatif Nour al-Hamadani, 21, was betrayed by her own husband, who - under extreme torture - named his wife and several colleagues as gun-runners.

Awatif was pregnant but was set upon by a man called Major Amer who beat her with a metal chair and then sexually abused her. At her trial, Judge Mussalam al-Jabouri suggested that "a miniature gallows should be found for her baby daughter because she had sucked on her mother's hate-filled milk". Awatif was taken to be executed for the first time with two female colleagues and forced to watch the hanging of 150 men, 10 at a time; as their corpses were taken away, she recognised one of them as her husband. She was then returned to her cell. She was later executed in an electric chair.

Maysoon al-Assadi was an 18-year-old university student when she was arrested for membership of a banned Islamic organisation. During her interrogation, she was hanged by her hair and beaten on the soles of her feet and then sentenced to hang by Judge Awad Mohamed Amin al-Bandar. Her last wish - to say goodbye to her fiance - was granted, and the two married in the prison. But while saying goodbye to other prisoners, she made speeches condemning the leadership of the Iraqi regime, and the prison governor decided that she should be put to death slowly. She was strapped into the jail's electric chair and took two hours to die.

Salwa al-Bahrani, the mother of a small boy, had been caught distributing weapons to Islamic fighters in 1980.

She was allegedly administered poisoned yoghurt during interrogation by a doctor, Fahid al-Dannouk, who experimented in poisons that could be used against Iranian troops. Salwa died at home 45 days after being forced to eat the yoghurt.

Remember, too, that it was Saddam who had people on the payroll as violators of women's honor," and that it was Saddam who granted amnesty to hundreds of rapists, releasing them from prison just prior to the war.

But no. Trafficking in women was almost unheard of under Saddam.

Tell it to the Kurds, asshats.

One woman, speaking from behind a curtain to preserve her anonymity, told of how her family was captured by Iraqi forces in April 1988. Her grandmother died in the prison camp, while she witnessed terrible atrocities.

A warder called Jaafar Al Hillawi used to grope prisoners' breasts, and one day caught a beautiful young woman from Koi Sanjaq, she said. "He caught her and told her, 'You are mine.' She spat in his face," she told the court. "He tore her clothes and raped her in front of her parents. Then he shot her. She remained alive for several minutes and then died."

Another witness, again shielded by a curtain, said that prisoners had eventually attacked the rapist after another of his victims committed suicide, but that they were savagely beaten in punishment.

But, yes. Sex trafficking was almost unknown under Saddam.

Wanna buy a bridge?

Splash, out


Technically speaking, sex trafficking was unknown under Saddam; we didn't know about it right? But then that is the point isn't it; because we didn't see it we assume it didn't exist. I am amazed by the number of people who fall for this fallacy, thinking that because the violence of antebellum Iraq went unreported that Iraq was peaceful. I guess living in such an amazingly free society leaves strips too many of their ability to imagine what it must be like to live under Saddam the dictator. Of course that CNN and others censored their news reports to stay in Saddam's good graces didn't help. Today the killings are announced with the report of a suicide bomber positioned for maximal media exposure which the MSM is more than happy to provide. Under Saddam, the killings came with a knock on the door in the middle of the night or from a death squad rounding up hapless villagers in a remote province. If the mass graves are any indication, I would guess as many if not more were dying out of sight and out of mind under Saddam then now at the hands of the insurgents, militias, and terrorists. But since we couldn't witness those deaths, we think things are much worse now. It is disappointing that reporters from our nation's "paper of record" subscribe to that fallacy, though not surprising.
Yes, exactly. You were right to point out the press was successfully deterred from printing anything about any sex trafficking under Saddam's rule, thanks to Eason Jordan and the rest of them.

And a goodly number of those women and girls now lying in mass graves were sexually abused before their murders.

Sexual assault and rape were routine under Saddam's goons.
Increased "sex trafficking", looting, bank robbery, kidnapping, blackmail, etc. - the explanations are all the same.

Remember how ther was "very little crime" and "no prostitution" in the Soviet Union?

The credibility of gov't reporting: When prostitutes (who stood in ranks along the walls of Moscow's palatial subway stations with their prices chalked on the top of their shoes) were occasionally arrested, they were never charged with prostitution, but with "loitering" or "hooliganism" or somesuch.

The nature of the police state: In a totalitarian society, many - if not most - of the people who would be criminals in a free country (theives, racketeers, blackmailers, hit men, thugs, torturers and yes, rapists) WORK FOR THE STATE.

So, when a police state collapses (Soviet) or is overthrown (Iraq), crime - of all sorts - HAS to increase, because all these lovely government employees are OUT OF A JOB. Having few other skills, they freelance for an ethnic militia or homegrown mob (redundancy alert) or go into business for themselves...
First, Playboy covered this in January 1991 in the article "Mein Kuwait" talking about how Baghdad was a party town as late as 1990. Prostitution was common in 1990, although it was probably controlled by the Tikriti clan, which is why it wasn't a legal problem. The prostitutes were not arrested, they were beaten and killed by the Ba'athist pimps.

Second, my translator last year in Iraq is a jounalist and he looked into this. A lot of the women whose husbands and families got themselves killed and imprisoned are now making a living on their backs. My translator, who has been to the west and is a very sympathetic individual related that he had investigated sex trafficing and been very well recieved by a madam in Baghdad. The woman had not been talked with as a human being by a man in her life and was anxious to keep the conversation going. Her customers were so messed up that they couldn't deal with her as human.

I got a strong sense that prostitutes fulfill a key niche for the large number of bachelors who do not make enough money to get married and start a family in Iraq. When money becomes available for a prostitute, but not a family, the men are massively sexually frustrated and ashamed to acknowledge that this is they only way they can find release. There is a lot of messed-up pride arriving at the doors of Iraqi brothels.

There is no indication that this is anything new, though. The major difference I see is that some of the players running things have changed and that the influx of cash and disenfranchised women has increased the visibility of sex trafficing.

I did not notice the availability of condoms while I was there. I've been monogamous for so long that I just don't look anymore.
The Playboy article you mentioned appeared in January, 1991, written by Tony Horwitz. No, I didn't make the name up - his name is really Tony Horwitz!

I wasn't able to find the article itself online - only that Patrick Lasswell commented on it a couple years ago on Suicide Girls. Go, Tony!!! You must have really liked that issue!!!

Still, if anyone can find it online, I'd be much obliged.
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