Military concealed cause of female soldiers' deaths
Several female soldiers at Camp Liberty died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquid in the afternoons, for fear of having to walk to the latrine at night and risk being raped by their male colleagues.
Military Hides Cause of Women Soldiers' Deaths
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Report
Monday 30 January 2006
In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.
Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.
The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said. [...]
How is it possible that American female soldiers are living in fear of rape by their own colleagues? We know that rape is a serious problem in the military, but it's odd that a significant number of soldiers at Camp Liberty would be afraid of getting jumped on the way back from the latrine. These women are armed and presumably trained to ward off attackers.
What is it about this situation that's compelling our troops to risk their health and even their lives to protect themselves from their own colleagues?