Back to top

The Missing Story of Iraqi and Syrian Women's Resistance

Last week, the New York Time​s published an articled entitled ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape. The article documents horrific accounts of the systemic rape committed against women and girls. It was hard to take.  As I read, I was struck by the omission of brave Iraqi and Syrian women who are risking their lives to stand up to ISIS. Read my published letter to the editor below

To the Editor:

After reading about ISIS’ systematic use of rape, I recoiled. Even after decades as a women’s rights activist, I find that my mind can still reel at the levels of atrocity that women and girls endure. But this story is incomplete without mention of Iraqi and Syrian women’s resilience.

Last year, when ISIS started rounding up thousands of women and girls into sexual slavery, I first heard about it from Yanar Mohammed, an Iraqi women’s rights activist. With the help of a network of brave local activists, she was already organizing escape routes and shelters to help women and girls fleeing the Islamic State.

She’s not alone. Across Iraq and Syria, women are organizing in the face of ISIS brutality. They are creating pockets of resistance in the most horrific circumstances, through safe houses, secret meetings and countless brave acts. They are hope in the face of horror.


Executive Director, MADRE

New York