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Sexual violence is 'tactic of war' in Iraq, Syria

Iraqi women demonstrate against sexual abuse by Islamic State group militants [AFP]

Date of publication: 31 August, 2015

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Rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as war tactic in Syria and Iraq warned the United Nations saying these acts are war crimes

Sexual violence is being used as 'a tactic of war' in Iraq and Syria, as conflict intensifies in both countries.

Recent report from the region have highlighted how sexual violence has a become a central weapons of war, with claims that the Islamic State group, for example, has created a 'theology of rape'


The IS group's sexual slavery of Yazidi women after their capture around Mount Sinjar in August 2014 has been well documented. 

In Iraq years of protracted conflict have subjected women and girls to gross human rights abuses such as abductions, killings, trafficking, torture, forced marriage, and sexual violence.

The UNSC condemned the use of sexual violence in Syria and Iraq in a press statement on 28 August.

The council expressed particular concern about sexual enslavement and sexual violence being used as a tactic of war.


It urged parties involved in armed conflict to take all feasible steps to protect civilians from such "abhorrent" acts.

The Security Council made its statement after being briefed by Zainab Bangura, the UN special representative for sexual violence in conflict, on her visit to the Middle East.

It highlighted that rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict are war crimes and serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions, while urging the international community to remain united and ensure those responsible for such crimes are held accountable.

Council members also called for all conflicts in the region to be brought to an end, to minimize the opportunities for sexual violence to be committed.

They also called for all those involved in counter-terrorism, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution to recognise the importance of empowering women and including means for protecting them in these processes.

Other parts of the region have seen an increase in sexual violence.

In Egypt there has been greater and indiscriminate use of sexual violence against those apprehended by Egypt's security forces since the coup of July 2013, according to a report released by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in May.

In June, a UN report documented how the South Sudan army had 'raped and then burnt girls alive' in the northern battleground state of Unity.

 

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