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Rights group says thousands of women are illegally detained by Iraq authorities

A human rights group says that Iraq authorities are illegally detaining thousands of women, many of whom are subjected to torture and ill-treatment including the threat of sexual abuse.

The Human Rights Watch says in a report released on Thursday that women have been held for months or even years without charge before seeing a judge.

The HRW report was based on interviews with 27 female detainees. Many described being kicked, slapped, raped or threatened with sexual assault by security forces. The women said they were questioned about their relatives' activities rather than crimes in which they themselves were implicated.

International rights groups are worried about Iraq's ability to handle those detained in massive security sweeps targeting militants. Inmates regularly complain of abuse and miserable conditions.