In 2011 Iraqi authorities uncovered a mass grave in the central city of Diwaniyah which are believed to be corpses of Kurds who were killed under Saddam Hussein's rule. Human Rights Watch and other organisations have reported instances of torture, murder, rape, abductions, deportations, forced disappearances, assassinations and genocide of Kurdish people under Saddam Hussein's regime. During the 1980-1988 war with Iran, Kurds were the main opposition to Saddam, consequently thousands of them were killed, forced into exile and many simply disappeared. The number of those killed remains unknown, but some estimate that somewhere between 300,000 and 1.3 million were killed during this period.
Under Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime, many Kurds were subject to arbitrary detention, torture, religious prosecution, execution and rape. Kurdish women were raped by Saddam Hussein's militia groups, and many of these women were forced to leave their villages in fear of honour-related backlashes within their small communities. Some villages were destroyed by Saddam's militia groups, and consequently the women were forced into prostitution through sex trafficking. These women were unable to return to their villages or surrounding communities because their reputation were perceived to have been destroyed and stained, which could have had devastating consequences for them.
According to a report by Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) by Malka Marcovich with organisations in Iraq participating in the NCA consultation process called "Trafficking, Sexual Exploitation and Prostitution of Women and Girls in Iraq" dissident women and girls were "kidnapped, harassed, imprisoned, beaten, raped and tortured in other ways". The research paper highlights that Saddam Hussein, alongside officials owned sex clubs which were known in certain districts as "entertainment areas". In these clubs, many women ended up as prostitutes of the regime.
The burial proceedings of the mass graves that was uncovered last year were broadcasted on Kurdish TV live, the coffins were draped in Kurdish flags and flowers. In a statement to Rudaw one of the surviving victims, known as Hayran said, "It gives us a kind of happiness that the bodies have been returned to where they belong". She lost 50 members of her family, including 2 brothers and 2 uncles.
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