Gender and Peace No.4 - January 2015
This issue features:
Violence against women committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria
Impacts on gender of the conflict in Ukraine
Violence against LGTBI people in armed conflict
Participation of women’s organisations in peace negotiations in Colombia
Impact of conflicts
New reports and accounts collected by the media confirm the serious impact of the sexual violence perpetrated by the armed group Islamic State (ISIS) in its areas of influence in Iraq and Syria. A recent investigation conducted by Amnesty International (AI) concluded that the Yazidi minority women and girls abducted by the organisation in northern Iraq in August have been victims of brutal abuse, including torture, rape and forced marriage. The AI report details that many of them have been subjected to sexual slavery, sold or offered as “gifts” to ISIS combatants and to people supporting the group.
It is estimated that hundreds and possibly thousands of people were captured by the group in the region of Sinjar, of which around 300 have managed to escape. In their testimonies, some say that in the midst of despair, many women have attempted suicide in order to escape their situation. Speaking to the BBC, ISIS survivors have indicated that after several attempts, which are usually unsuccessful, some have managed to take their own lives.
They also detailed the dynamics of the slave market set up by ISIS, which even created a pamphlet in question-and answer format on how to treat them, evidently considering them the “property” of the militants. Amnesty International said that the survivors are doubly affected: in addition to severe trauma as a result of their abuse, they suffer from the loss of relatives killed or kidnapped by ISIS. The Iraqi media and government said in December that the radical group had executed 150 women, some of them pregnant, after refusing to marry its militiamen. The massacre reportedly occurred in Fallujah, in Anbar governorate, and the victims were buried in mass graves. Previously, in Mosul, ISIS publicly executed women’s rights activist Samira Salih al-Nuaimi after she criticised the group on social networks. In this context, the German government announced in late December that it is planning to open a support centre for victims of sexual violence perpetrated by jihadists. The institution is expected to receive around 100 women coming from Iraq and Syria.