Reporters on the Job

Unexpected Revelations: When correspondent Annia Ciezadlo went to a Baghdad home to report today's story about the alleged abuse of Iraqi women in Abu Ghraib (page 1), she didn't know that's what she was going to get. She thought she was going to hear the usual complaints about family members in US detention. "The daughters and I talked for about an hour about the fact that their mother had been arrested, and that they didn't know what the charges were. I was told a litany of fairly common issues surrounding family members in detention. But I noticed one of the cousins was getting increasingly agitated and upset, and wasn't sure why," says Annia.

The living room was packed with extended family members. Finally, one of the aunts burst out with the story about alleged rape and abuse by US soldiers, told to them by an uncle now held at the prison and by other released prisoners.

"After that, the entire atmosphere changed. Everybody started crying. 'You can't tell her this,' said Hiba. 'We don't want this in the newspaper.' She ran out of the room crying and several other family members ran after her," says Annia.

Annia, too, was overcome with emotion and apologized to the family.

"Everyone was too upset to keep talking. It's a big deal for Iraqi women to be seen in public without their hijab, (head covering), let alone to be seen by an American. It's a big taboo. Discussing rape or abuse in public is difficult in any culture, but particularly in Iraqi culture. There was tension within the family about whether to reveal it. But some decided to publicize it in hopes it would stop the abuse," says Annia.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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