Saturday, July 19, 2003

I first read about it in the Muajaha , they had it on their front page. (RAPE! New violence in new Iraq). They don’t have that issue online and they are just very young Iraqis who are trying to get a newspaper running while they get their exams done. The article was written with the help of all the staff members in al-Muajaha , but the person who got most involved was Hamsa . A very brave young girl who was at the morgue one day when she heard about the nine year old Sanarya, if you are wondering why the morgue it is because the morgue is the only place where they have a forensic medicine department.
Quite independently Neela Banerji meets an American pediatrician who tells her about a nine year old girl who was raped and brought to her by Hamsa.
Neela has written about it:

Rape (and Silence About It) Haunts Baghdad Read it here or here.

When Hamsa went to find Sanarya’s house she had with her a British filmmaker, Julia has the only footage of the only time Sanarya was asked about the rape. Neela and I went to see the footage, it kills you.
Hamsa was great during the first couple of weeks, she protected Sanarya from her brother, tried to get her a place to live with her sister away from the family. She and the American pediatrician did as much as they could but the pediatrician was transferred and Hamsa has exams, no one has visited Sanarya for a while until Neela, Zainab and Linsey went there. She was back at her parents place and they are beating her. Today I have been with Neela to unicef to talk to people responsible for the child protection program, we are trying to figure out what to do and how to help the kid. I will go tomorrow with Zainab and Neela to Sanayra’s on an outing, just to get her out of that house, for lunch or an ice-cream and so that I can talk to her sister Fatin and see what could be done to help.
People I am open for suggestions. I am totally in un-chartered territory for me. Other than Unicef who should we be contacting? I have heard about SOS Save the Children but they are not in Baghdad and I wonder whether an orphanage is really a good idea concerning Sanarya’s case.

Neela suggest reading The Human Rights Watch report on the issue:

climate of fear: Sexual Violence and abduction of Women and girls in Baghdad