On 28 April 2004 the CBS television network broadcast photographs taken by American soldiers at the Baghdad Correctional Facility (Abu Ghraib). They showed Iraqi prisioners stripped and piled up to form human pyramids. Prisioners were naked and hooded. Many had clearly been tortured. Some photographs showed men forced to simulate fellatio. The perpetrators were not just young American men, but female soldiers as well. A photograph of Private Lynndie England holding a naked man on a leash was to become the most iconic image of the war in Iraq and of the decadence of American womanhood.

Soon afterwards evidence of sexual abuse and other forms of torture carried out by American women as well as men began appearing. Nori Samir Gunbar Al-Yasseri, for instance, was one of the many prisoners who gave a sworn statement about his treatment. ‘As soon as we arrived,’ he recalled,

they put sandbags over our heads and they kept beating us and called us bad names. After they removed the sandbags they stripped us naked as a newborn baby. Then they ordered us to hold our penises and stroke it… They started to take photographs as if it was a porn movie. And they treated us like animals not humans. They kept doing this for a long time. No one showed us mercy. Nothing but cursing and beating… He (Speacialist Charles Graner) and the two short female soldiers and the black soldier… When we were naked he order us to stroke, acting like we’re masturbating and when we start to do what he would bring another inmate and sit him down on his knees in front of the penis and take photos which looked like this inmate was putting his penis in his mouth. Before that, I felt that someone was playing with my penis with a pen…3 men ansd 2 women.

Joanna Bourke, Rape. A History from 1860 to the Present.

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