As world powers deploy military missions to fight ISIL* in Iraq, the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict is urging them to prioritize ending widespread sexual violence by ISIL and other militant groups in the region. The Campaign also warns that without the inclusion of Iraqi women in diplomatic efforts to establish peace, violence will worsen.
"With their monstrous tactics, ISIL has turned Iraqi women's lives into a nightmare,” said Yanar Mohammed, President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, a Campaign member. “Women in communities under ISIL control have witnessed beheading of their husbands and sons, and fear to be sold with their daughters as spoils of war to become sexual slaves for princes of ISIL. We are raising our voices to the international community, to say that our lives matter and that the world cannot ignore these violations of Iraqi women's human rights.”
The Campaign calls on world leaders to:
- Take comprehensive action to end rape and gender violence in Iraq, including responding to the Iraqi military’s use of rape and torture as tools of intimidation, as reported by Campaign member, Human Rights Watch.
- Ensure women are included in all diplomatic discussions on Iraq and increase support for local Iraqi women's organizations working to protect survivors.
- Tackle the severe need for psychological care in Iraq. Rates of serious mental health disorders are already at a critical high in neighbouring Syria—made worse with increasing ISIL kidnappings, sexual and other forms of violence.
- Ensure survivors have the full range of medical, legal and livelihood services to rebuild their lives and communities.
*The militant group refers to itself as the “Islamic State,” but is also commonly referred to as ISIL, ISIS, and DA’ISH/DAESH.