This short documentary features two sexual violence investigators on the Justice Rapid Response-UN Women SGBV Justice Experts Roster who were deployed to the UN's investigations in Syria and Iraq, and four survivor-witnesses they met during their work - examining brave efforts to bring perpetrators to justice, and the importance of quality and timely investigations of sexual and gender-based violence.
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Tanya Gilly Khailany, from Iraqi-Kurdistan, is a former member of the Iraqi Parliament (2006 – 2010) and a co-founder of the SEED Foundation, an organization that works with survivors of violence and trafficking in Iraq. An outspoken women’s rights activist, Ms. Gilly Khailany was one of the key parliamentarians who legislated the 25 per cent quota for women in Iraqi provincial councils. As an expert on political participation and peacebuilding, she recently spoke at a side event on the margins of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on 26 September in New York.
Humanitarian crises are taking an enormous toll around the world. More people are displaced today than at any time since World War II, and among those affected, women and girls are the most vulnerable. More than a quarter of the 100 million people in need of humanitarian assistance are women and adolescent girls of childbearing age, between 15 and 49. They face mounting risks and vulnerabilities, but have limited access to services and insufficient funding to meet their unique health and protection needs.
A refugee from Iraqi Kurdistan, Taffan Ako fled to Sweden in 1997 with her family. Today she is the Coordinator of One Young World Ambassadors for Scandinavia and Eastern Europe and founder of EmpowHERment, an organization that assists women and young girls who have been former ISIS sex slaves or victims of human trafficking. Her foundation finances integration projects for children and women in Europe and in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Founder Samira Harnish, an Iraqi immigrant, is named Nansen Award regional finalist from the Americas.
As Iraq continues to face complex post-conflict challenges, the importance of an inclusive dialogue on peace and security is vital. Women are an important part of that discussion, and Iraq was the first Arab nation to issue a National Action Plan based on UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 2014.
UNHCR is expanding cash-based assistance so that the millions of people that it serves can meet their needs in dignity, are protected and can become more resilient. Taking a bank card to a cash machine in Beirut, Syrian widow Manar Al Sayer taps in a PIN and withdraws a few Lebanese pounds.
“His verbal attacks were merciless,” says Gemila, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee, about her husband. UNFPA Turkey is running safe spaces funded by the European Commission - Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations - ECHO to help survivors of gender-based violence like Gemila.
While the number of child marriages occurring among Syrian refugees in Iraq is not available, research conducted among Syrian refugees elsewhere suggests a link between the poverty and instability facing displaced families like Aysheh’s, and rising pressure for girls to get married. Feeling helpless, Aysheh sought help from the UNFPA-supported Zahrat Al-Yasamin women’s social centre in the camp.
"I was so desperate, I had lost hope. Committing suicide seemed the only escape from the abuse, back then," Fatima* said in an interview earlier this month. "I didn't know how to handle the pain." A mother of eight, Fatima has been married for about two decades.