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Iraqi Activist to Testify at the UN on ISIS, sexual violence and Shelter for Women

October 9, 2015

Yanar Mohammed, an Iraqi women’s rights activist and operator of an underground network of women’s shelters, will address the United Nations Security Council next week, on Tues., October 13, where she will call for the Council’s commitment to develop and implement policies to promote gender equality. She will also highlight the failure of the Iraqi government to provide adequate protection for survivors of violence while it prohibits local non-governmental groups’ efforts to provide refuge.

This month, the UN marks 15 years since passing the Security Council’s Resolution 1325, which mandates women’s participation in peace building. Policymakers and advocates are meeting in New York to evaluate progress on the global agenda on women, peace and security.

Ms. Mohammed founded and directs the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), which provides shelter and urgent services to women escaping violence and advocates for human rights for all. OWFI has been working with Lisa Davis, a professor at CUNY School of Law’s International Women and Human Rights clinic. The organization also is supported by MADRE, an international human rights organization with a long history of engagement on the issue of wartime sexual assault.

During the Security Council debate, on October 13, Ms. Mohammed will speak directly to world leaders about the violence that has seized Iraq, Syria and much of the region, including the rise of ISIS. She will also spotlight specific impacts on women and girls, like the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

In addition, she will call attention to the implications of a policy regarding shelters. Authorities in Iraq have prohibited local non-governmental organizations from running shelters (outside of Kurdistan). Yet, the need for such shelters has exploded with the ISIS invasion, as women and girls flee persecution and the threat of sexual enslavement.

“This is a critical time,” Ms. Mohammed said. “Our safe houses provide security for women escaping the worst violence, from honor killings to ISIS enslavement, and we are constantly under threat from raids and harassment from government and local militias. Rather than force women at risk into the shadows, we need policies that empower and support them.”

The following individuals are available for interview:

  • Yanar Mohammed, President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) (English or Arabic)
  • Lisa Davis, Clinical Professor of Law for the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law (English)
  • Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRE (English)

Lucille Renwick
CUNY School of Law
Communications and Marketing Director


Related Categories: General News, HRGJ, IWHR, Spotlight

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