Isis-linked women ex­ploited for sex, chil­dren de­nied aid

Nelson Mail - - WORLD -

IRAQ: Iraqi women and chil­dren with sus­pected links to the Is­lamic State group are be­ing de­nied hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and pre­vented from re­turn­ing home, and the women are sub­jected to sex­ual vi­o­lence in dis­place­ment camps, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional says.

The Lon­don-based rights group said yes­ter­day its lat­est re­port was based on 92 in­ter­views with women in eight camps for dis­placed Iraqis in the prov­inces of Nin­eveh and Sala­hed­din, north of Bagh­dad. It said the re­port de­tailed the predica­ment of thou­sands of fam­i­lies fend­ing for them­selves af­ter male rel­a­tives were killed, ar­bi­trar­ily ar­rested or forcibly dis­ap­peared while flee­ing Isis-held ar­eas in and around the north­ern city of Mo­sul.

‘‘Women were be­ing co­erced and pres­sured into en­ter­ing sex­ual re­la­tion­ships in ex­change for des­per­ately needed cash, hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and pro­tec­tion from other men,’’ Amnesty said, adding that women faced sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in all eight camps.

Amnesty said the women also faced the risk of rape. Four women told the group they had ei­ther wit­nessed rape or heard the screams of women who were be­ing as­saulted by armed men, mem­bers of the camp ad­min­is­tra­tion or other camp res­i­dents.

‘‘Women and chil­dren with per­ceived ties to Isis are be­ing pun­ished for crimes they did not com­mit,’’ wrote Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s head of Mid­dle East re­search. ‘‘This hu­mil­i­at­ing col­lec- tive pun­ish­ment risks lay­ing the foun­da­tion for fu­ture vi­o­lence.’’

Of­fi­cials from Iraq’s Shi’ite Mus­lim-led govern­ment could not be reached for com­ment. But in the past, it has vowed to pun­ish any­one found to have com­mit­ted abuses.

Iraq de­clared vic­tory over Isis late last year af­ter a gru­elling three-year cam­paign against the Sunni Mus­lim ex­trem­ists. The fight­ing dis­placed hun­dreds of thou­sands of Iraqis, mainly Sun­nis, and dev­as­tated Sun­ni­ma­jor­ity towns and cities.

Amnesty called on the govern­ment to show it was ‘‘se­ri­ous’’ about end­ing the vi­o­la­tions against women by hold­ing all per­pe­tra­tors to ac­count and keep­ing armed men out of the camps.

Amnesty also said that in some cases, fam­i­lies with per­ceived ties to Isis faced prob­lems on re­turn­ing home.

‘‘In several ar­eas, lo­cal and tribal au­thor­i­ties have is­sued or­ders that block the re­turn of women and chil­dren with per­ceived ties to Isis. Those who have made it home have faced evic­tions, forced dis­place­ment, loot­ing, threats and abuse, in­clud­ing sex­ual abuse and sex­ual ha­rass­ment.’’ In some in­stances, their homes had been de­stroyed or had their power and wa­ter cut off.

‘‘To put an end to the poi­sonous cy­cle of marginal­i­sa­tion and com­mu­nal vi­o­lence that has plagued Iraq for decades, the Iraqi govern­ment and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must com­mit to up­hold­ing the rights of all Iraqis with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion,’’ Maalouf wrote.

‘‘With­out this, there can be no na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion or last­ing peace.’’ – AP

PHO­TOS: AP

The Salamiya camp for in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons is one of several in Iraq fac­ing crit­i­cism by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional.

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