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As Chappell points out in her piece, one of the major arguments put forward to justify the invasion of Iraq in was widespread human rights abuses, especially against women. Eight years on, the success of the invasion, including Australian support and involvement, very much remains an open question. A small wing; homier in demeanour than its adjacent counterpart for male prisoners.
Glimpses of men, slumped and crowded, sneak past me on the way in. She is spreadeagled contentedly across the armchair flanking the large desk in her private office; the plastic palmfronds in the corner, her blue camouflage suit and the communist-era military cap perched atop her piled black locks form a composition of years gone by.
I am the flat-soled, notebook-wielding visitor today: that alone makes me a Z-grade celebrity, calling in the hopes of penning something on the women in her charge.
Now with Iraq torn between violence and upheaval in the south and frenzied, potholed development here in the north, this prison represents not only the tragedies, but also the strange and often conflicting social changes that have gripped Iraq. Baradost pauses as she tries to recall what was done with female prisoners before Nobody would have allowed for it.
The capacity for criminal activity increases with personal liberty, and these women have been brought here by their transcendence of domesticity. It is because of her that I am here. Prisoners are divided according to crime. Cell — theft, or Charge under Iraqi law — is filled with the eyes of two women who stare back at this new intruder. Rozaki tells me that one was caught stealing from the markets, the other from the government. We follow the kids into Cell — murder — the young ones darting between the legs of four women adorned in velvet floor-length gowns.