Last updated on December 10, 2018
Many years have passed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq but the effects continue to linger. The conflict continues to rear its ugly head and provokes fierce debate. When Saddam Hussein was finally captured and subsequently convicted, many Muslims in Iraq and other nations breathed a sigh of relief. The region continues to deal with social and political issues, but the days of Hussein and his power-hungry sons are long gone. Stories of their inhumane treatment and the barbaric conditions of the country’s prisons are never-ending. Exiles from the country have opened up and revealed what they remember from their time under the brutal Hussein regime. This is the story of Mayada Al-Askari, a divorced mother of two who ran a local printing shop and was wrongfully accused of spreading anti-government. She was arrested, incarcerated and tortured on a regular basis by prison officials determined to find the source of the anti-regime literature. She was eventually released when it was determined that a subordinate of hers was the real culprit behind the printings.
After becoming friends with Jean Sasson, the noted author of multiple books about the Middle East including Growing Up Bin Laden, she tells the story of how and why she was arrested and the many horrors she heard and saw during her incarceration at the infamous Baladiyat prison. Finding herself crammed into a cell with a large number of other women, most of whom are also imprisoned on false charges, she forms friendships with several women who server as a keeper for one another fearful of the barbaric nature of the guards assigned to their floor. In the effort to create a sadistic and deadly environment, a daily regimen of physical and psychological abuse is enforced to break the spirit and mind of every inmate. From executions to severe beatings, the savagery and merciless abuse reveals a cultural mindset bent on submission at any price. The stories in the book are tragic and horrific and they served as a reminder of the dark side of the Hussein regime. The number of atrocities committed by Hussein are well-known and repulsive. Mayada’s story helps to give a voice to thousands of other woman and men who were falsely imprisoned in Iraq and forced endured treatment of the worst kind.