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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Violence against women
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.
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.
“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.
"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.
"There are lots of setbacks in life, but what matters is standing up again," said 33-year-old Cojine*. She would know. She endured years of spousal abuse. It began four years ago, when a classmate asked her to marry him. She agreed.
Pari Ibrahim, 27, is the founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), an independent, non-profit organization that provides services for women survivors of the violent ISIS attacks on the Yezidi community, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
On 19 September, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations in Geneva, human rights activists and UN Women participated in a side event of the 36th Human Rights Council, where they discussed the "Impact of Terrorism on the Rights of Women".
The Iraqi Government must ensure that the thousands of women and girls who survived sexual violence by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) terrorist fighters receive care, protection and justice, and that children born because of such violence do not face a life of discrimination and abuse, a United Nations report published today says.
The United Nations focal point for ending conflict-related sexual violence is in Iraq where she today met with survivors of rape and other abuse by the Islamic State (ISIL).