his report documents abuses to which the criminal justice system subjects women during arrest, interrogation, trial, and imprisonment. Between December 2012 and April 2013, Human Rights Watch interviewed 27 women and 7 girls, Sunni and Shia; their families and lawyers; medical service providers in women’s prisons; civil society representatives; foreign embassy and United Nations staff in Baghdad; Justice, Interior, Defense, and Human Rights ministry officials, and two deputyprime ministers. We also reviewed court documents, lawyers’ case files, and government decisions and reports.
The report finds that security forces carry out illegal arrests and other due process violations against women at every stage of the justice system, including threats and beatings. Israa Salah (not her real name), for example, entered her interview with Human Rights Watch in Iraq’s death row facility in Baghdad’s Kadhimiyya neighborhood on crutches. She said nine days of beatings, electric shocks with an instrument known as “the donkey,” and falaqa (when the victim is hung upside down and beaten on their feet) in March 2012 had left her permanently disabled. A split nose, back scars, and burns on her breast were consistent with her alleged abuse. Israa was executed in September 2013, seven months after we met her, despite lower court rulings that dismissed charges against her because a medical report documented she was tortured into confessing to a crime.