NGO expertise helps document rape during war

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 06:57

By Justice Hub 

The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have resulted in countless atrocities being committed against innocent civilians. Women and girls have borne the brunt of these crimes, particularly those of a sexual nature. ISIS, the extremist group also known by its Arabic language acronym Daesh, is responsible for many of these crimes. The group has been especially ruthless in its targeting of women and girls from the minority Yazidi community in Iraq.

Women like Salina, Ikhlas and Ivana were rounded up and used as sex slaves by the Daesh fighters. This is based on the harrowing personal accounts the three brave women gave to the makers of a short documentary “Evidence of Hope” that documents the work of two sexual violence investigators.

“I have chosen you for myself” one of the men told Ivana. “By this he meant he will rape me,” says Ivana.

“The rape that I experienced, it happened to all the Yazidi girls…all of us,” says 17-year-old Ikhlas.

“They should be brought to justice,” adds Salina who was held captive by Daesh for 9 months.

How can the evidence be collected?

Two organisations Justice Rapid Response (JRR) and UN Women have partnered to form a “Sexual and Gender-based Violence Justice Experts Roster” comprised of 217 individuals from around the world. In Iraq and Syria, experts from different fields are helping to collect evidence on SGBV crimes committed against women by groups like Daesh.

Dr Hala, a Syrian doctor formerly based at the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan, worked closely with the experts on the JRR-UN Women roster. As someone who has intimate knowledge of the traumas experienced by women in times of conflict, Dr Hala understands why it’s important to collect and preserve as much evidence as possible for use in possible future legal trials.

“We have to do something as professionals, as doctors to document these cases because it is not enough just to provide services for the victim. You have to give them [survivors of sexual violence] hope that they can punish the perpetrators one day. That will bring justice in their lives and bring peace to the community,” says Dr Hala.

You can watch “Evidence of Hope”, the short documentary about the work Justice Rapid Response and UN Women are doing in Iraq and Syria, below:

Photos: The pictures in this piece are screen grabs from the JRR/UN Women short documentary film "Evidence of Hope". Justice Hub has modified the screen brags from the film with appropriate text to match the format of our #MyJustice series. Our thanks to JRR/UN Women for permitting the modifications. 

David D Y Choi

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Friday, November 3, 2017 - 07:15