Added: June 6, 2015 – Last updated: December 3, 2016


Speakers: Theresa Porter and Helen Gavin

Title: Perceptions of Evil from Abu Ghraib

Subtitle: Female Prison Guards and Sexual Violence

Conference: Evil, Women and the Feminine: 7th Global Meeting (May 6-8, 2015)

Session: 5: How Far Can It Get?

Place: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Date: May 7, 2015

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 21st Century | American History: U.S. History: Asian History: Iraqi History | Offenders: Prison Guards, Women; Types: Sexual Torture; Types: Wartime Rape / Iraq War; Victims: Men, Prisoners



Inter-Disciplinary.Net (Free Access)

University of Huddersfield Repository (Free Access)



Helen Gavin, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield


»In 2003, the world was presented with images of sexual torture from Abu Ghraib, a U.S. military prison in Iraq. For many people, part of the shock of the images was not the fact of the torture of military prisoners by American guards, but rather, the fact that several of the guards were women. Lynndie England, Sabrina Harman, Megan Ambuhl and Janis Karpinski quickly became the infamous face of the U.S. imperialism. The involvement of women celebrating prisoners’ sexual humiliation and pain, then taking trophy pictures of the acts, was extremely difficult for people to believe and it forced western society to realise that simply adding women to the military did not automatically make that military less prone to brutality.
The aftermath of Abu Ghraib included extensive analysis from many perspectives, from the Bush White House blaming “a few bad apples” to the conservative claim that joining the military had “masculinized” the perpetrators and made them violent. Some feminist theorists stated that England et al were the scapegoats who lacked any power or authority as common soldiers. Others noted the connection to colonialism in the fact that all the victims were men of colour while the perpetrators were Caucasian. Throughout this analysis, the focus has been on fact that the perpetrators were all members of the military but ignored the reality that they were functioning as prison guards. Research has shown that female prison guards in the USA are responsible for the majority of sexual crimes against male inmates and a large percentage of sexual crimes against female inmates.
This paper will discuss how the sexual torture at Abu Ghraib can be seen as existing on the same continuum of other sexual crimes committed by female prison guards.« (Source: Inter-Disciplinary.Net)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of Iraq | History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1991–present) | Types of rape: Wartime sexual violence | War: Iraq War / Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse