Under even the harshest circumstances of brutal occupation by ISIS fighters, Iraqi and Syrian women are organizing to save lives and demand their rights. They are setting up shelters to protect women and girls, maintaining escape routes, providing humanitarian aid, advocating for international policy action, and so much more.
These women-led solutions must be spotlighted. That’s just what happened at a MADRE co-sponsored symposium with locally-based Iraqi and Syrian women activists and international experts who are addressing the crisis of women’s human rights under ISIS.
During the symposium, Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director, discussed the subtle but powerful shift in community responses to rape in Iraq and Syria and how this holds the potential to permanently disarm rape as a weapon of war.
“The real destructive power of the use of sexual violence in armed conflict is that it doesn’t only destroy the women who are targeted – it tears apart their families, it tears apart their communities because of these social norms around the stigma..What happens if those social norms are unsettled?…[Sexual violence] becomes a much less effective weapon.”
Watch Yifat’s remarks below.
For more information, read Yifat's op-ed "What will it take to stop ISIS using rape as a weapon of war?" publishing in The Guardian.
Learn about the recent MADRE and WILPF co-organized conference between Iraqi and Syrian women’s human rights activists, here.