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OWFI Statement

The need to create safe houses for women in the cities liberated from ISIS

The ISIS invasion to the Iraqi cities have caused much misery as a result of massacres and executions. In the same time it devastated lives of women who were forced into marriages, raped into pregnancies, many of whom gave birth to babies with no fathers. In the current and coming weeks, and by the progress of the Iraqi forces in the liberated Western Cities, a new set of problems have appeared to women who were compromised by ISIS, as ” honor killing” awaits them on the hands of their tribesmen. These misogynistic patriarchs did not protect their women in wartime, but come back after the defeat of ISIS in order to claim the lives of women who were forced into rapes, pregnancies, and marriages.
ISIS occupation of a big part to the Iraqi cities showed the Iraqi society the inhumane and misogynist practices of ISIS fighters who committing all kinds of crimes against women and young girls with no consideration or hesitation. Typically, they threaten to arrest or execute a male member of the family first, in order to negotiate ”taking” their daughters into forced marriages. Women’s bodies were and continue to be violated by ISIS in many Iraqi cities. In addition to their physical abuse and distress which lasts for many months, a year, or more, they are left pregnant or had given birth to so called ”illegitimate” babies.
Thousands of women find themselves devastated and broken in the cities liberated from ISIS, as a result of being pregnant or becoming mothers to babies without no legal papers or acknowledged marriages. After suffering long-terms distress which results from physical abuse, humiliation, and rape, they do not earn the respect and compassion which a victim deserves. On the contrary they get criminalized, degraded and sometimes killed under the pretext of ”honor killing”.
Iraqi women find themselves voiceless victims of patriarchal masculine violence of their tribesmen in times of peace, and also victims of ISIS human beasts in times of war. Their bodies were turned into battlefields of patriarchy and sectarian religious hatred one after the other. Moreover they get punished again by their tribesmen for being raped by ISIS as if the matter was of their own choice.
We in the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq undertook intervention to save women’s lives from “honor killing” and trafficking since many years, and provided safe houses to the threatened women, in humane ways which properly address the women’s right to respect and integrity. We also base our intervention on the fact that the women are victims who deserve all the respect and support. We find all these factor important and fundamental in the success of the task of women’s protection in this important moment of our history.
Therefore we demand the Iraqi State to facilitate our mission to rescue women and protect them from the ongoing cycle of sectarian violence.
We call for the establishment of safe houses for women in all the cities liberated from ISIS, and for these houses to be under our experienced supervision of OWFI and other women’s organization. We in OWFI find that women in Iraq have suffered repeatedly and heavily under the patriarchal sectarian wars of this political epoch, and we have the means of undoing the suffering for the women. Our shelters can do the job, provided that the Iraqi government ceases to put a ban on women’s shelters which are run by NGOs.
We remind the Iraqi State to perform its duties towards women-citizens according to the conventions signed by the Iraqi State to the United Nations, and in particular those which include commitments to protect and empower women in conflict and post-conflict zones.

Long live women, free and proud, in Iraq
Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq
24- 10- 2015

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