Women Victimized by ISIS Are Like “Living Corpses”

ICC Note: The UN Envoy for Sexual Violence in Conflict has recently returned from Iraq, where she spent her time meeting women who were forced into sexual slavery by ISIS. The militants specifically targeted women of religious minority groups for this kind of violence. The women lack access to trauma care and health services. Many also are afraid to speak about the experience, for fear of social ostracization. They are, in the words of the UN Envoy, “like living corpses.”

03/15/2018 Iraq (Al Arab) – Girls and women forced into slavery by Islamic State extremists are “like living corpses” with a “gross lack of support” from the state and society said the UN envoy for sexual violence in conflict after her return from Iraq.

Pramila Patten said on Friday the survivors were released early this year and told her they are confined to camps because of the double stigma of being victims of sexual violence and sexual slavery, and of being associated with IS – and fear of being perceived as an affiliate of the militant group.

“Some also expressed a fear of being detained,” she told a news conference Friday. “So they are very much confined, including by their parents. They are not stepping out of their camp and have not had an opportunity to avail themselves of even the limited psycho-social support that there is inside the camp.”

Patten, who visited Iraq from February 26 to March 5, said many women who remain displaced expressed serious concerns for their safety if they return home and shared their fear of reprisals.

She said she met with all religious leaders, and while “they show a lot of empathy toward the women returning” she was told that Turkmen women will be rejected by their community. And she said Yazidi women, who have historically been subjected to persecution, expressed a wish to leave Iraq.

During a lightning charge in June 2014, IS fighters took over Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and nearly a third of the country, plunging it into the most severe crisis since the US-led invasion in 2003. Mosul was liberated last July, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared an end to the IS self-styled caliphate.

But Patten said the impact of the conflict and IS occupation is impacting not only the women but their children.

She said provincial authorities in Mosul told her women who were raped and held as sex slaves have abandoned their children born to IS fighters. As a result, she said, the authorities have had to set up orphanages for “thousands of children.”

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