A young girl in Iraq is raped and murdered by American soldiers.
Abeer walked alone along the deserted dusty street towards her home in Khasir Abyad, six miles north of Mahmudiya near Baghdad. Her family had only recently moved there so her father, a labourer, could search for work. Times had been tough for the family under Saddam’s rule but they were nowhere near as tough as they were now. As Abeer rounded a corner she averted her eyes from the military checkpoint stationed on one side of the road.
The Americans had become part of Abeer’s everyday life in Iraq, but within the last week the demeanour of those who she came in contact with had changed. At first it had begun with the changing expressions of the soldiers. Their faces no longer seemed to be searching for danger or some hidden threat. Now their faces portrayed anger and an arrogance towards the young girl and other Iraqis who passed their way. Abeer kept her eyes down and tried to close off her ears to the soldiers who were calling out to her in a language she didn’t understand, although there was no mistaking their tone. From the corner of her eye she picked out one of the soldiers miming an act to her, which she immediately understood to be sexual. She hurried on.
When Abeer finally reached home she found her mother and father sitting outside in the shade of a palm tree, her father smoking contentedly on his wooden pipe. She smiled and greeted them both before telling her mother what she had seen at the checkpoint earlier. Her mother shooed her away, telling her that if she did not bother the Americans they would not bother her, and that was the end of it. Abeer went inside and her mood immediately lightened when her younger sister Hadeel came racing out of the bedroom to greet her. Big sister wrapped her arms around little Hadeel, scooping her off the floor and twirling her around in the air to squeals of delight.
Night came and after the family had finished supper her parents returned once more to the palm tree outside, where her father once again took up his pipe while her mother sat there talking to him of the work he was sure to find tomorrow if not the next day. Abeer and her sister cleaned up after dinner and then sat on the living room floor, playing with Hadeel’s doll that had at one time been her big sister’s.
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