Here's a grim update on the threats of retribution following accusations that Iraqi officials raped two Sunni women: The bodies of 14 members of Iraq's predominantly Shiite police force were discovered this afternoon. Just this morning, the Islamic State of Iraq, which has al-Qaida affiliations, claimed responsibility for the abduction of 18 Interior Ministry employees, the Associated Press reports.
The group threatened to kill the captives unless they were given custody of the officers accused of raping one of the two recent accusers. They also ordered the release of all female Sunni prisoners. The group said in a statement, "This blessed operation is a response to crimes carried out by those infidels in their fight against the Sunnis. The latest of the crimes committed by these traitors was to rape our sister in religion."
As much attention as these recent two rape cases have gotten in the global press, it bears mentioning the (hopefully) obvious: These are hardly the first cases of sexual violence committed by Iraqi officials. What's so unusual about these two cases is that the victims have taken their accusations public. Famed Iraqi blogger Riverbend writes of the first accuser: "She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name."
It's frustrating not having a strong grasp on just how widespread the sexual violence is in Iraq, but, next week, women's rights group MADRE is releasing a comprehensive report on gender-based violence. So stay tuned.