Despite recognition that rape is a problem in the war torn country, aide workers in areas that support Iraqi refugees are reluctant to discuss it. Refugees fleeing to Syria and Jordan are often forced to remain silent, due to the stigma attached to women, as well as their male family members, who are raped. Ahmed Ali, a journalist, was forced to flee following repeated attempts to reveal the prevalence of rape in Iraq since the war began.
A Human Rights Watch report includes some information on rape victims in Iraq, even though it is incredibly difficult to document. The enraged and disbelieving reaction among government officials and citizens alike to an Iraqi Sunni victim's allegations of rape on Al-Jazeera network serves as a stark example of the sensitivity to issues of sexual violence in the region.
Still, some humanitarian aid workers are providing resources, such as counseling, to refugees. The International Rescue Committee, which has assisted survivors of sexual violence in Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sierra Leone is implementing programs to assist Iraqi refugees as well.
Compiled from: "Iraq Refugee Crisis Engulfs Women Silenced by Rape," by Rasha Elass, Women's eNews Network, 1 April 2007.