Women in Iraq's prisons face beatings, electrical shocks, and sexual assault, among other horrors—and they're often detained for the actions of their male relatives, not their own, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. Sometimes the abuses were carried out while those male relatives looked on, the AFP reports. "Iraqi security forces and officials act as if brutally abusing women will make the country safer," one HRW official said in a statement.
One woman interviewed had to walk on crutches thanks to nine days of torture; she was later executed despite a court ruling dismissing the charges against her and medical reports backing her torture accusations, al-Jazeera notes. The report is potentially explosive, because Sunni protesters have long made the release of female detainees a key demand from the Shiite-run government. An Iraqi human rights official said the report was "over-exaggerated," but admitted that "we have some illegal behaviors" against women prisoners.