In another bout of violence the same day, a car bomb killed four people and wounded 28 on a commercial street in the northern town of Tuz Khormato.
On Thursday, a string of car bombs hit commercial areas in Baghdad, killing at least 13 people. And on Wednesday, 34 people were killed in multiple explosions, mainly in the heart of Baghdad. Last year, the country saw the highest death toll since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The UN said violence killed 8,868 last year in Iraq.
“However, it is not just the sectarian violence that is exacerbating tension in the region; what is of major concern is the violence against, and abuse of, thousands of women who have been detained by the Iraq authorities,” observes English language local daily, The Gulf Today, in its editorial on Saturday.
The Iraqi authorities are illegally detaining thousands of women, including many subjected to torture, the threat of sexual abuse and other ill-treatment despite promises of reform, the Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.
The findings by the New York-based rights group raise new concerns about Iraq’s ability to handle those detained in massive security sweeps targeting militants amid the escalation in violence. There have also been doubts on the efficacy of the Iraqi judicial system, which has been accused of being plagued with corruption and falling short of international standards.
Human Rights Watch said that women have been held for months or even years without charge before seeing a judge. Many were rounded up for alleged terrorist activities by male family members. Interviewed detainees described being kicked, slapped, raped or threatened with sexual assault by security forces. One detainee entered her interview with the group in Iraq’s death row facility in Baghdad’s Kazmiyah prison on crutches, saying nine days of beatings, shocks, and being hung upside down had left her permanently disabled.
The woman was executed seven months after meeting with HRW, in September 2013, despite lower court rulings that dismissed some of the charges against her because a medical report documented she was tortured into confessing to a crime.
As long as such abuses against women continue militancy in the nation will reportedly continue to thrive. Iraqi security forces and officials act as if brutally abusing women will make the country safer, according to one HRW official.
“The authorities should make concerted efforts and tighten laws that ensure the dignity of the fair gender and thereby stem the spiral of violence that has claimed thousands of lives in the country,” the paper concludes.