The Raped Whores of Iraq

— No Voice, No Hope
50,000 Iraqi women and girls have been forced into surival prostitution since the Iraq invasion. And all we hear of it in the media is a single poorly researched story on CNN.

AFTER 5 YEARS OF WAR, there is finally one story on CNN about the prostituting of Iraqi women. "On Deadly Ground: The Women of Iraq" aired this last weekend (March 15 and 16) and in one short — very short — segment, reporter Arwa Damon interviewed a prostituted being, a woman selling herself to feed her children. The story was shallow and woefully inadequate and made me wonder why, after years of reporting from Iraq , Ms. Damon has just now decided to pay attention to this — scant as that attention is. And why did she have to begin her report with that ragged untruth: prostitution is the oldest profession. An ugly idea bandied everywhere — with not an ounce of accuracy in it. (Procuring and pimping are the oldest professions.)

The prostitute interviewed said, "I cannot imagine anyone would do this except to survive." And she said that women did not have to do this before 2003, and the invasion of her country. Both great revelations? Things we do not already know? Perhaps we really don't know these things — although it would seem that we should. And it would seem that the almost complete indifference of the American public, and of American journalists, to the rape and ravaging of the bodies of Iraqi women and girls is just par-for-the-course ignorance. No matter that in all conflicts, women suffer sexual torture, particularly the torture of intercourse with men they do not know, for money, due to starvation and desperation and, often, the need to feed their children. This is seen as standard military practice, in any war, as is the American ignorance of the fact. And the journalistic ignorance. Where are Katie Couric and Lara Logan, two other experienced women journalists with extensive, first-hand knowledge of Iraq, when it comes time to uncover the brothels in the Green Zone and the Iraqi 14-year-olds currently living in rape hell in Dubai — having being sold into that country's lucrative and merciless sex trade to feed their families. All these celebrated American women journalists — vaginaless, heartless, ignorant — when it comes to the wretched mass raped bodies of the survival sex whores that we apparently consider so unimportant that there is only one mainstream story in 5 years!

At least the military ought not to have been ignorant of this fact — that war means forced sex and the wretchedness of raped-for-money bodies. Almost every military man at the Pentagon has seen prostituted bodies — used them, probably, since it is the rapist warrior way — is aware that sexual torture in the form of prostitution is a massive 'by-product' of war. Sadly, these military men consider it a trivial by-product of war. The 50,000 Iraqi women and girl refugees currently engaged in survival prostitution are apparently not even on their agenda of concerns. (This number comes from the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children.)

As is typical with war coverage, the sexual torture of women's bodies is so unimportant that it is relegated to the absolute lowest rung—even by women journalists. (This fact is indicative, by the way, of the second-class status of all women, not just whores.) In "Women of Iraq," Ms. Damon covers Yanar, a privileged, wealthy Iraqi woman, in extensive detail. But her extremely limited story on prostitution in Iraq just sweeps all the whores under the rug. After mentioning that these whores might be killed by the police and the military if found out, she just drops the topic. Too far beneath her consideration to even merit further attention, apparently — even though whoring may mean death. You would think Ms. Damon would explore this further — by interviewing the killers of these women. How many whores have been murdered by the Iraqi military and the police? How many whores are there now in the Baghdad brothels that have sprung up since the invasion? Where do these women come from? Who are their customers? Iraqi men? GIs? Iraqi police? Iraqi soldiers? Politicians? Are the coalition forces taking advantage of the starvation-sex whores available to them? Are these 'tainted women' automatically subjected to honor killings? If so, how can men keep the brothels stocked? If intercourse is so shameful for a woman outside of marriage, does any of this shame devolve on the Iraqi men who are raping the women in the brothels? Does any of the shame transfer to the men who rape the whore Ms. Damon interviewed? After all, this is survival sex for her? What is it for him? Does he see it as taking advantage of a destitute woman? Shouldn't his own shame be enormous? How does prostitution work in this war, given the culture? Is the Islamic culture as hypocritical and brutal toward the whore as is Christian culture — or Buddhist or Hindu culture — all of which condemn her for the sale of her body, even under extremes of starvation, oppression, and desperation.

It would seem that the hypocrisy is even worse in Iraq — the Iraqi police, notorious by now for their own gang raping behavior, are going out and killing whores because other men are raping them? The convoluted perverseness of that male logic is way beyond me.

And, if the military are killing whores for being whores, then how can they not condemn their own behavior — as with all militaries, these men rape — and use prostituted bodies. Look at their record in Kuwait — massive rape during their invasion of that country — along with forcing girls into prostitution to service them. Not Iraqi women — Hussein forbade the turning of them into whores — so he trafficked in girls from Thailand and elsewhere to service his army. All soldiers rape. I would like to know how Iraqi soldiers can kill whores for being raped in order to survive and eat when they themselves rape?

These are some of the points Ms. Damon might have explored.

The brutal sexual primitivism of our thought is well illustrated by the Iraqi whore Ms. Damon interviewed. Terrified she will be caught, veiled, interviewed anonymously, so shamed by this debasement, by this daily rape of her body. What kind of perverse, beyond-cruel sexual world have we humans created — where there is blame and possible death for a woman who must engage in that most wretched of acts — intercourse with men she does not know — out of starvation desperation? What kind of world when the Pentagon knew this would happen — as a 'byproduct of war' — their thinking on it — and did nothing to prevent it? We could have saved all 50,000 of those women who, according to their culture, are irreversibly ruined due to daily rape. When even one rape ruins a girl forever in this culture, there will be no recovery for her from thousands of rapes. Her closed-in, culturally deadened mind will never allow her to see herself as a worthy being. Should she ever be able to escape from survival sex, she will be that walking dead raped ghost that is the ex-whore. How can she be otherwise when every country on the planet condemns her for her whoredom? All ex-whores, those in America too — walk around as condemned, vilified raped beings. The women of the world condemn the whore even more than the men do. In Iraq, those who aren't whores condemn those who are. In America , the non-whore women have not even a remote clue as to the wretchedness of being raped daily by men you don't know. If they did, they would put a stop to it immediately. If they did, thousands of women from American — and also Europe, since their men are over there as well — all these women would fly to Iraq immediately and demand, irrevocably, that not one more Iraqi girl be forced to whore for food. And they would demand that the $100 billion in oil revenue pouring out of Iraq this year be used to help all whores and raped beings everywhere.

It will never happen, of course. Not one war has called forth this kind of sympathy and solidarity among women. I lived through the Vietnam era, and for the ten long agonizing rape-filled years of that war, I could not find one American woman who had the remotest interest in the whores that war created. As with all wars, the massive rape of the whore body is an unimportant fact, dismissed as not even worth protesting or reporting on. I can understand the thinking behind this: since she is not a virgin anymore, she is worth nothing, and since she is so degraded by the invasion of all those penises, she will never be worth anything ever again. Why report her story? She has no story. Just as she has no life or soul or sexual beauty left. She is just the raped ghost of a whore. How could she possibly matter? Even one story on CNN every 5 years is far too many.

A couple of days ago, a young woman in Egypt e-mailed me. She is doing her dissertation on Prostitution and the Military in Iraq . She says that I am one of the only people she can find who is writing on this topic. I wrote her back — about how hard it is to find information. Every soldier I ask sidesteps the issue with 'excuses' — 'oh, yes, there is prostitution there, but I didn't really see much' — or, they snigger when I ask, as if it were all a dirty joke. (So what else is new? — the whore is always a dirty joke.) I told her that I had sent several e-mails to Iraq Veterans Against the War, but no response from them. They have admitted there is prostitution there, but will say nothing more. 'The Pact' reigns. Rape the whore body but say nothing about it back home. As if the women back home gave a gnat's-butt-of-a-damn about this rape so far away, in that dusty country. (The rape will come home with the men. Transnational Rape.)

I'd like to say to this young woman in Egypt : I am really tired. I have been writing on this subject for two year — with almost no help. I have been doing the job of all those hundreds of journalists in Iraq who refuse to cover this issue — as they have in all previous wars. It is a journalistic tradition, apparently — hide the starving, war-created whore from view.

I am doing the job of millions of American and European women who refuse to foreground the issue of starvation sex in wartime.

My words are like smoke on the wind, but I will try to say it once again —

Let this war in Iraq be the first one where survival sex and the wretchedness of the raped whore are covered extensively — every night on every news station — and every day in every media outlet and publication — until millions of American and European women rise up and go over there, and put a stop to it.