Death Before Dishonor

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Army Major Dortina Stephens was a logistics officer stationed in Iraq in 2007 and 2009 who helped train the Iraqi military. One of five daughters, she was the only one who followed their father into the Army.

Stephens spoke of her experiences in in this recently-posted April interview with the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. While most of her deployment sounded pretty mundane, there was something that stuck out:

There was one specific memory that stood out and it was a culturally based memory.

There was an Iraqi female in the Log battalion we were mentoring¬† and her daughter was kidnapped. The team went over to see how she was doing. Her name was LT Latifa and she was married to an American. She made the comment, “I know they’re doing bad things to my daughter and if they return her I will kill her myself.”

I didn’t understand that having kids and all the other females didn’t understand it either. My team leader after we left pretty much broke it down for us, “That’s their culture. They don’t believe in premarital sex or anything like that. If they were doing bad things to her daughter it would mean her daughter was ruined and she wasn’t ripe anymore and she would have to kill her herself.”

That’s just their culture. That was like the biggest thing that stood out to me on the deployment.