Sunday, February 19, 2006

US female soldiers died for want of a safe toilet!

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Some US female soldiers who served in Iraq died from dehydration because they refused or dared not drink sufficient water late in the the day. Why?

They feared they would need to visit the latrine at night. The women's latrine is located some distance from their barracks and not well lighted. There, it seems, some male soldiers could be waiting in the dark to rape any women foolish enough to visit the latrine at night.

Though there is a rape help-number for attacked women to call, very few barracks in Iraq has a phone for the victims to readily use. Besides, the help-number receiving facility is back in the USA with only a recording device telling the caller to leave a message, that is, for those who could find a phone or even get through. Worse, after more than 80 reports of rape on this help-line, there hasn't been any remedial action or investigation.

There have been numerous rape incidents among US soldiers in Iraq [as well as Afghanistan], but the previous US Commander in Iraq, General Sanchez, didn't want to know anything about it nor did he want the press to be informed.

When once, a doctor annotated in a death certificate of a female soldier who died of dehydration, Sanchez ordered the cause of death not be written down. He was more interested in covering up the disgraceful threat and abuse to his female soldiers than stopping it or helping them.

As an aside, Sanchez has been the commander directly responsible for authorising the scandalous torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. He was under pressure from Rumsfeld to urgently produce the necessary intelligence that could help stop the escalating insurgency. In turn Sanchez was permitted by the Pentagon to resort to torture to extract the necessary intelligence.

It was reported that Sanchez said of women soldiers in Iraq being raped by their male counterparts: "The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory."

Just imagine that once the American public had been so reluctant to allow their women soldiers to serve in combat areas for fear of the other side raping them should they fall into enemy's hands. Looks like the enemy for US female soldiers is closer to home than they had ever imagined.

Sanchez has been known to be very sensitive to the political consequences of his command decisions in Iraq, and undoubtedly would have passed on the troubling cause of the women's deaths to the Pentagon, to alert his boss Donald Rumsfeld. The informer of an apathetic Sanchez suggested that, knowing the way how Rumsfeld worked, the Defence Secretary would have ordered the tragic details about the deaths by dehydration restricted from the press.

What a general! What a Secretary of Defence! Allowing such unwarranted, senseless and the most tragic of deaths to their female soldiers, all for want of a safe toilet.

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