On October 3, 2009 graphic and disturbing photos of the brutal rape of a 14 year old Iraqi girl emerged via confidential source and caught media attention. The photos show US Soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division forcibly holding down and gang raping the Iraqi girl. The girl and her family, including a five year old child, were murdered.
This brutal event occurred back in March 2006, and one of the killers, Steven Green, was found guilty on May 7, 2009 and awaits sentencing. Women’s rights advocates expose the link between the War on Terror and the increasing rates of violence committed against women and children abroad. Elaine Villasper, a GABRIELA USA Vice Chair, stated, “This is enraging. Wherever the U.S. military goes, the rates of prostitution and sexual violence escalates. It’s time to stop the U.S. war machine.”
The story and three photos, which had been withheld from the public, is a deep reminder that the United States has had a long history of brutality against women and children during times of war. The presence of US military forces has always corresponded with an increase in human rights violations. US military forces employ the vicious and sadistic tactics of raping, torturing, and murdering women and children as a weapon of war, meant to exert power and control over a country and to beat it’s people into submission.
Hundreds more photos were set to be released this year, under the support and urging of President Obama, but he later abruptly changed his position and moved to block the release of the photos instead. In May 2009 Obama stated that releasing the photos could “further inflame anti-American opinion” and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Obama recently won the Nobel Peace Prize but Joanne Alcantara of Pinay Sa Seattle argued that, “if Obama truly wanted to support peace amongst people, then he should pull out US troops as soon as possible from countries such Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Philippines. Obama should also seek justice for the raped victim and convict the rapists.”
GABRIELA advocates fought hard for the conviction and sentencing of U.S. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who was found guilty of raping “Nicole,” a young woman in the Philippines, in 2005. After struggling for three years and not being able to get justice from the Philippine Courts or the U.S. military, Nicole eventually withdrew her case. However, Terrie Cervas, of SiGAw in Los Angeles stated, “We will continue to tirelessly wage this struggle for third world women. We will continue to resist so that the illegal presence of US military troops in Iraq, the Philippines, and elsewhere ends.”
GABRIELA USA, including Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (New York), Babae (San Francisco), Sisters of GABRIELA, Awaken! (Los Angeles), and Pinay sa Seattle demand the immediate end to rape and sexual violence by the U.S. military in all its encounters. GABRIELA USA further demands the immediate withdrawal of U.S. Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines, and the end of the U.S. War of Terror.