Three years after ISIL’s attacks on Sinjar, Iraq, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, demands justice and support for the victims [EN/AR/KU]

News and Press Release
Originally published


New York, 3 August 2017: Three years ago today, on 3 August 2014, fighters from the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Da’esh attacked and overran the Sinjar region of Northern Iraq. The ensuing atrocities included a widespread and systematic campaign of sexual violence waged against Yazidi women and girls, as well as those belonging to other minority groups, such as the Turkmen Shia, Shabak, and Christian communities. Sunni women and girls have also been sexually assaulted and forced into marriage. The use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and terror has compelled countless civilians to flee their homes and homelands, leaving many as internally displaced persons and refugees.

“Last month, I met with a number of Yazidi refugee women and girls who have been resettled in Germany. These survivors shared harrowing accounts of sexual violence, including being sold and traded as the slaves and chattels of Da’esh”, Special Representative Patten stated. “Thousands of women and girls have been raped and abused continuously in the hands of their captors. Tragically, many Yazidi civilians remain unaccounted for to this day, with an estimated 1,500 women and girls still enslaved by Da’esh”. Special Representative Patten added that: “Those who have been released continue to suffer acute physical and psychological trauma as a result of prolonged enslavement and abuse. They require urgent medical, psychosocial and economic support.”

While the battle for Mosul may be over, the process of bringing Da’esh fighters to justice has only just begun. Three years on, not a single victim of sexual violence has had their day in court or the chance to testify against their abuser. “It is critical to break the cycle of violence and impunity by ensuring that the crimes committed by Da’esh do not go unpunished. We need a safe, credible, and survivor-centered judicial process that enjoys the full confidence of the people of Iraq and the international community, and that reaffirms the rights and dignity of the victims”, stated Patten. “In recent weeks, I have sent a team to Iraq to work with the national and regional authorities, the United Nations country presence, and frontline service-providers to advance implementation of the Joint Communiqué signed last year between the Government and my Office, including by strengthening capacity to monitor and investigate these crimes”.

Special Representative Patten further emphasized that: “Today, on the third anniversary of the Sinjar attacks, we must renew our commitment to the women and girls who have suffered some of the worst atrocities of our time. It is a solemn occasion to stand in solidarity with the survivors and to remember those we have lost. Systematic sexual violence, employed as a tool of war, terrorism, torture and genocide, is a crime against the victims and a crime against humanity. The international community is united in the goal of pursuing each and every perpetrator and holding them to account.”

For media inquiries, please contact Letitia Anderson, Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York. Tel: +1 212 963 0910;