Blog & Features: Violence against Women RSS

Uganda’s Warrior Girls

| September 10, 2007

Yes, this slight, shy girl talking with me in the schoolyard killed four people. The rebel soldiers had given her the dictum so many warrior Ugandan children live under: “Kill, or we will kill you.” She tells her story in a rapid-fire, hushed monotone—as if rushing to deliver a memorized passage from a tale too awful to really think about. And that it is. She is only now 16 years old: as an 11-year-old soldier she killed grown men. I don’t give her name because life is still too dangerous for her. Abducted from her school by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as a small child, she is now rebuilding her life in northern Uganda—a student at a boarding school for girls in Kitgum, near the Sudanese border. In the run of her life, she managed to escape from the brutality of the rebel army only to return to her village to find her parents dead. More »

Abeer’s Courage

| August 9, 2007

During the long days of the rape and murder court-martial of Sgt. Jesse Spielman at Fort Campbell where I was reporting a story for the Women’s Media Center website—I was struck by the language I was hearing and the apparent meaning of the words. More »

Update—Spielman Convicted and Sentenced for the Murder and Rape of Abeer

| August 6, 2007

A third soldier, Private Jesse Spielman, 23, was sentenced Saturday night to 110 years in prison after being convicted Friday of the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Rasheed Al-Janabi. However, like Sergeant Paul Cortez and Specialist James Barker, who were also convicted in the case, Spielman will, says the Associated Press, be eligible for parole after only 10 years in prison. More »

Spielman Court-Martial Underway in Murder and Rape of Abeer

| August 3, 2007

According to testimony at his court-martial, which began Monday at Fort Campbell, Private Jesse Spielman went with Sergeant Paul Cortez, Specialist James Barker and Private Steven Green on March 12, 2006, to the home of the Al-Janabi family in a village south of Baghdad. He watched while they raped 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Rasheed Al-Janabi and murdered her and her family. More »

A Crossroads for Human Rights—the Achievement of the Korean Comfort Claims

| April 2, 2007

In the years following World War II, we are in what legal scholar Eric Yamamoto has called a global “Age of Reparations.” Yet reparations claims and settlements have until recently ignored harms uniquely experienced by women. More »

What a War Crime Looks Like

| March 12, 2007

The account below is compiled from testimony given at the courts martial of Paul Cortez and James Barker, from accounts of the Article 32 Hearing and other court proceedings in the cases, and from previous WMC and newspaper reports. Former Pfc. Steven Green, Pfc. Jesse Spielman and Pfc. Bryan Howard are still awaiting trial. References to them are to alleged actions on their part according to the above sources. More »

The Casualties of War Crimes—Who Weeps for Abeer?

| March 12, 2007

Sandwiched between International Women’s Day on March 8 and the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19 is another date that marks a tragic nexus of the two: the day one year ago when 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Al-Janabi was stalked, gang-raped, shot in the head and her corpse burned in her own home in Mahmoudiya, Iraq. Four U.S. soldiers and one former soldier are charged with the crimes committed March 12, 2006. More »

“I’m Down With That”

February 26, 2007

“I’m down with that.” According to prosecutors, this was Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman’s response when hearing of a plan to rape 14 year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Spielman is undergoing court martial on various charges involving her rape and murder and the murder of her mother Fikhriya, father Qassim, and little sister Hadeel. More »

100-Year Sentence for Second Soldier Convicted of Rape and Murder

| February 23, 2007

Sgt. Paul Cortez, the second soldier to plead guilty to the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, as well as the murder of her parents and sister, was sentenced on Thursday, February 22, to 100 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Under the terms of a plea agreement made before the court martial took place, Cortez avoided life imprisonment without possibility of parole in sentencing handed down by the judge, Colonel Stephen Henley. More »

Notes from the Court Martial of Sgt. Paul Cortez

| February 22, 2007

“She screamed and cried and tried to keep her legs together.” That is how Sgt. Paul Cortez described the reason he was fully aware that his premeditated rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Rasheed Al-Janabi was not consensual but criminal. More »