Dreams of bombs, bad guys haunt Baghdad’s children
By Aseel Kami and Ahmed Rasheed Thu Mar 8, 7:18 AM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi children are haunted by dreams of bad guys wielding knives or kidnapping relatives. For some, like 13-year-old Zaman, the nightmares become reality. She was abducted, beaten and threatened with rape.
“Zaman suffers from shaking, nervousness, a stutter and sleep disorder,” said Haider Abdul-Muhsin, a psychiatrist at Baghdad’s Ibn Rushd hospital who treats children suffering the consequences of war, four years after the U.S. invasion.
Abdul-Muhsin said Zaman was abducted in Baghdad last month on her way home from school. Zaman was not at the hospital when Reuters visited, but Abdul-Muhsin said few children he had treated recently had affected him as much.
“An elderly woman asked her to help her carry some plastic bags across the road to find a taxi. While she was taking her bags back from Zaman, she grabbed her and forced her into the taxi. She anesthetized Zaman and tied her up,” he said.
The girl was held in a room with 15 other girls for seven hours before being released by police who raided the house.
“They beat her, they told her that they would send her to insurgents as a forced ‘bride’,” Abdul-Muhsin said.
Four years of war and now sectarian chaos that threatens to tear Iraq apart has had an enormous impact on children.
Car bombs explode every day in Baghdad. Mortar bombs rain down on some neighborhoods. Death squads roam the streets and kidnappings are rampant. Kicking a soccer ball around on the streets is like dicing with death.
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