Providing therapeutic support, medical services and income opportunities to Yazidi women and girls victimised by ISIS.
Beginning on the 3rd of August last year, women and girls of the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq were targeted by the self-identifying Islamic State (IS) with perhaps the single largest instance of sexual enslavement and trafficking in recent memory. As part of a larger project of attempted genocide, in which men who refused to convert to Islam were exterminated in mass executions, a free society was dismantled in a single day, with thousands of women and girls enslaved overnight. IS considers the Yazidis to be polytheists and on that basis attacked their unarmed, civilian population in their homes in Sinjar. The attack displaced several hundred thousand Yazidi people who now live in IDP camps in northern Iraq. IS killed several thousand men and elders, leavening behind thousands of unsupported women and children. IS abducted over 5,000 Yazidis, mostly women and children, of which approximately 2,200 have been rescued or have managed to escape. However, most of these are severely traumatized and many have returned with significant damage to their mental, emotional, and physical health. The women and underage girls who have survived enslaved were used by the IS jihadists for sex, often being sold or passed to multiple fighters and subjected to systematic rape and sexual violence.
These survivors of genocide and enslavement need therapeutic support and medical services. Many lost their families, have no income, and lack any education opportunities. The Yazda Organization aims to respond to this crisis on three levels:
- Helping female survivors of rape, enslavement, and gender-based violence to recover by developing a holistic psycho-social support and therapy program staffed by trauma specialists and therapists;
- Providing for the medical needs of female survivors and the displaced Yazidi population generally through the Yazda medical clinic;
- Developing educational and professional opportunities for women and girls who lost the support of their families, helping those in their teens and early 20s to finish school and helping those who are older to develop practical skills so that they can begin to generate an income for themselves.
What help is needed
- Seed funding to establish one pilot centre in Qadiya Camp to support women and girls.
- Expert advice on income generation activities to develop a sustainable livelihood programme.
- Partners to support, promote and develop the ‘Buy from a Refugee’ programme.
- Raising the profile of the issue is paramount in successfully supporting survivors. We invite journalists and communications experts to join us this story telling journey.
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