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UN experts call for compensation for Yazidi women survivors of conflict-related sexual violence

Read: 650     12:00     21 Июнь 2024    

In 2015, Hakeema Mahmood Chalo Taha, a Yazidi survivor activist from Kojo, Iraq, was abducted by members of the extremist Islamic group ISIS and taken to Raqqa, Syria, where she was kept in captivity for two and half months. 

Her story resonates with the experience of thousands of Yazidi women who were abducted and subjected to various forms of violence, including sexual violence, at the hands of ISIS. Some are still in captivity and their fate and whereabouts are unknown. Families and entire communities were killed and separated in this conflict. 

As highlighted in our recent report “Realising Reparation for Survivors of Conflict-related Sexual Violence”, survivors of sexual violence in this and other conflicts continue to grapple with long-lasting impacts of the violence they suffered.  These survivors also face stigmatisation and social exclusion even long after conflicts have ended. This discourages them from coming forward and hinders their access to justice.

Reparation is crucial to redress the harms caused and helps survivors to rebuild their lives and restore their dignity and independence. However, our collective research indicates that most survivors around the world are not able to access reparation, and when reparation is available, it is insufficient or delayed. This leaves survivors in a situation of extreme vulnerability, where their needs and harms are not addressed and often their suffering worsens.  

Hakeema recalled the importance of supporting survivors obtain reparation in a private briefing with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UN body of experts that monitors implementation of the main global treaty on women’s rights. The briefing was organised by REDRESS and the Global Survivors Fund (GSF) on 27 May 2024.

“I think it is very important that when a victim comes back she receives everything that is necessary, such as psychological help and financial support”, said Hakeema.

“The Yazidi women who survived the brutalities of ISIS continue to endure multifaceted struggles after their liberation. It is difficult to get justice and reparation and one of the main problems is that not everyone believes what ISIS did.”

This is the reality for survivors across the globe. As presented by GSF’s Head of Advocacy and Policy, Danaé van der Straten Ponthoz, to the CEDAW Committee, GSF’s research and experience in 27 countries demonstrate that the law and practice have been insufficient to ensure that survivors receive adequate, effective, and prompt reparation in practice, including compensation, rehabilitation, and non-repetition measures, as provided by international law.

The CEDAW Committee has been instrumental in advancing the rights of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. Nonetheless, this stark reality requires additional creative strategies to address this gap.

REDRESS Legal Advisor, Renata Politi, shared with the Committee the need for strengthened efforts in this area:

“We believe that States could benefit from specific guidance on how to overcome hurdles to reparation, concrete steps to design and implement judicial and administrative reparation for survivors of conflict, including to ensure that these are victim-centred, co-created with survivors, and gender-sensitive.”

In this briefing, we invited the Committee to continue its comprehensive approach when deciding individual cases, and to develop a specific General Recommendation on reparation for conflict-related sexual violence to provide further guidance to States on this issue and ensure survivors receive reparation in practice.

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