Mon, Jan 23, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Women have become new bargaining chips in Iraq

CULTURAL DIVIDE The insurgents' abduction of female Westerners is causing angst as Iraqis complain that US soldiers are mistreating females


Hind al-Salehi, an activist who promotes the rights of female detainees, said many women are arrested to pressure male relatives wanted by the Americans or Iraqis to surrender. Some do, al-Salehi said, although others "would rather sacrifice their wives or daughters and mothers for the sake of that cause."

"They break into a house looking for a suspect. He's out. So they take his wife or sister or mother," she said.

The London-based Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat quoted an unidentified woman who was released from jail two weeks ago as saying she was detained because her husband had been accused of belonging to an insurgent group. Because security forces couldn't find him, the wife was taken, the newspaper said.

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