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Human rights abuses common in southern Iraq between 1991 and 2003

Nearly half of the households surveyed in southern Iraq report that human rights abuses occurred among household members between 1991 and 2003, according to a study in the March 24/31 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Although human rights abuses have been reported in Iraq, the full scope of these abuses has not been well documented, according to background information in the article.

Lynn L. Amowitz, M.D., M.S.P.H., M.Sc., of the Physicians for Human Rights, Boston, and colleagues conducted a study to assess the nature and scope of human rights abuses in southern Iraq since 1991 and to examine Iraqi views on women's health and human rights. The study consisted of a survey of 1,991 Iraqi men and women, representing 16,520 household members in three major cities in southern Iraq. The survey was conducted in July 2003, using structured questionnaires.

Respondents averaged 38 years of age, and were mostly of Arab ethnicity (99.7 percent) and Muslim Shi'a (96.7 percent). "Overall, 47 percent of those interviewed reported 1 or more of the following abuses among themselves and household members since 1991: torture, killings, disappearance, forced [military service], beating, gunshot wounds, kidnappings, being held hostage, and ear amputation, among others. Seventy percent of abuses were reputed to have occurred in homes. Baath party regime-affiliated groups were identified most often (95 percent) as the perpetrators of the abuses; 53 percent of the abuses occurred between 1991 and 1993, following the Shi'a uprising, and another 30 percent between 2000 and the first 6 months of 2003," the authors write.

"Education and work opportunities for women were both highly supported by men and women. However, men were significantly less supportive than women of these rights and of women's civil and political rights. Half of respondents agreed that there were reasons to restrict women's educational opportunities (53 per
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Contact: John Heffernan
617-695-0041
JAMA and Archives Journals
23-Mar-2004


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