Sunday October 21, 2018
Home Uncategorized Terrorism: Ch...

Terrorism: Challenges faced by ISIS rape victims in Iraq

Yazidi women returning home pregnant or with newborn babies are being stigmatized by their own communities

0
//
359
Women being used as facilitators for carrying out Islamic miki
Republish
Reprint
  • Around 2,000 Yazidi women remain in captivity of ISIS, while the 1500 who have escaped their clutches are returning home either pregnant or, in some cases, with newborn babies
  • Abortion is illegal in Iraq even in the case of rapes, it gives an exception only if the birth would jeopardize a woman’s life
  • According to the Iraqi law, these children will be treated as if they’re born of adultery and, consequently, their mothers will not have the right to raise them

While the world talks about the growing threat of ISIS in developed European countries, Yazidis in Iraq are usually looked over because of their minority status.

Two years after Islamic State militants attacked the Yazidi’s in northern Iraq and took thousands of women and girls as sex slaves, many victims are now returning home pregnant or, in some cases, with newborn babies, Iraqi sources tell VOA.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

Those victims are faced with contradicting cultural and legal challenges: While the former type of challenge is compelling them to undergo abortions or abandon babies, the latter is criminalizing their actions, those sources say.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, nearly 1,500 Yazidi women and girls enslaved by IS have escaped. However, around 2,000 women remain in captivity.

Nemam Ghafouri, the chairwoman of Joint Help for Kurdistan, a Swedish-Kurdish organization that supports displaced Yazidis, told VOA that “the return of Yazidi female victims can be divided into three phases. In the first phase, we received raped women; in the second phase, we received pregnant women; and in the third phase, now, they are coming home with infants.”

More than 200 Yazidi sect members, freed eight months after they were taken captive by Islamic State militants, wait on the edge of Kirkuk for relocation, April 8, 2015.
More than 200 Yazidi sect members, freed eight months after they were taken captive by Islamic State militants, wait on the edge of Kirkuk for relocation, April 8, 2015.

‘Alarming numbers’

According to Ghafouri, the issue of pregnant Yazidi returnees became noticeable to her organization in November 2014, four months after the massive IS attack on Yazidi areas. “Since then, more and more victims have returned home, with some of them eight months pregnant and others nine months,” she said.

“Abortion has been used in all cases I have encountered,” she said.

No data are available on how many victims have returned home pregnant or with infants because they, and the officials, hardly talk about the issue publicly to avoid a backlash from a rather conservative Iraqi society.

VOA reached out to several women who sought abortions or gave birth, but no one agreed to talk.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Nofel Hamadi Akub, the governor of IS-controlled Nineveh province, said there were approximately 3,000 newborn children with “unknown parentage” in IS-controlled Sunni areas as a result of “sexual jihad.” The number included children born to Iraqi or foreign Sunni women who married IS fighters.

“The most complicated problem facing Baghdad after the liberation of Nineveh will be the issue of children with unknown parentage,” Akub said.

Displaced Yazidis, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State group in Sinjar, Iraq, head toward the Syrian border Aug. 11, 2014.
Displaced Yazidis, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State group in Sinjar, Iraq, head toward the Syrian border Aug. 11, 2014.

Social stigmatization

A small religious minority concentrated mostly in northern Iraq, Yazidis are an insular group, keeping mostly to themselves despite the often bloody realignments the borders and political structures around them have gone through.

Marrying someone from another religion is an unpardonable sin in the Yazidi religion. Similarly, having sex, even under duress, is considered to taint the bodies and souls of the community members.

Consequently, when the IS militants took captive thousands of Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves and forced them into religious conversion, the female victims found themselves being stigmatized by their communities upon their return.

Nevertheless, in September 2014, the spiritual leader of the Yazidis, Khurto Hajji Ismail, widely known as “Baba Sheikh,” called on the community to welcome back the abducted women because they had been “subjected to a matter outside their control.”

That statement has since helped the victims rejoin their community, but newborn infants and pregnancy are not tolerated.

“The victims are our daughters and sisters, but it is unacceptable in our religion to allow the birth of any children if both parents are not Yazidis,” Baba Sheikh told VOA in a phone interview.

“It is also tribally unacceptable and a source of shame,” he said. “If such children are born, wouldn’t people ask who their fathers are? Are they Afghans? Are they Europeans?”

Therefore, abortion is perceived as a solution. However, that raises two other problems: Abortion is illegal in Iraq, and not all women want to undergo the procedure.

Abortion

The ban on abortions in Iraq covers the Kurdistan region as well and applies even in the case of rape. Iraqi law gives an exception only if the birth would jeopardize a woman’s life.

FILE - Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, says there is an "unwritten" agreement among Iraqi authorities to permit abortions for Yazidi rape victims.
FILE – Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, says there is an “unwritten” agreement among Iraqi authorities to permit abortions for Yazidi rape victims.

But Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, said there is an “unwritten” agreement among Iraqi authorities to allow the procedure to be practiced for the Yazidi rape victims.

“It’s an illegal act, according to the Iraqi law, but we’ve come to an understanding with the authority,” Dakhil told VOA. “The doctors refused to cooperate in the beginning. But we have taken the responsibility upon us because the women were forcefully put into the situation.”

To avoid legal consequences and public shame, the victims turn to backstreet abortion clinics, a source inside the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Health who asked not to be identified told VOA.

Newborn babies

To Rezan Dler, a female lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives who has been working closely with the abducted Yazidis, cases of women who have been raped and want to keep their babies are not uncommon.

“A Yazidi woman who was pregnant for eight months when she escaped IS, she wanted to keep her baby, but her husband insisted on divorcing her if she refused to have an abortion. The couple finally separated. The woman is now living in a refugee camp with her 5-month-old child,” Dler told VOA, describing the circumstances of the Yazidi woman without disclosing her name.

In other cases, the Yazidi women have given their newborn children to infertile Kurdish couples, Dler said.

FILE - A refugee woman from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with a child inside a tent at Nowruz refugee camp in Qamishli, northeastern Syria, Aug. 17, 2014.
FILE – A refugee woman from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with a child inside a tent at Nowruz refugee camp in Qamishli, northeastern Syria, Aug. 17, 2014.

Some women are so resolute on keeping their children that “they’ve indicated they would rather stay under IS slavery if returning home meant losing their babies,” Dler told VOA.

Legal issues

“This is one of the most challenging problems that will face the Iraqi law in the future,” said Xamosh Omar, a court judge and a legal consultant for the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament.

“According to the Iraqi law, these children will be treated as if they’re born of adultery and, consequently, their mothers will not have the right to raise them,” Omar told VOA.

Another legal challenge is religion. Iraqi law, as guided by the Islamic Sharia code, rules that children will hold the religion of their fathers, Omar said. “Does that mean these children will be considered Muslims while they are raised by their Yazidi mothers? There is no legal answer to this.”

Dler is trying to push the Iraqi parliament to find a legal way. But she said chances of passage are very low.

“I am a woman and I understand what raped Yazidi women must go through. But for the Iraqi parliament, this is a shameful topic to be addressed. I doubt they will allow this issue to be even brought into the parliament for discussion, let alone finding a legal answer,” she said. (VOA)

ALSO READ:

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

C-Section Births Doubles In Number, Reaching Epidemic Proportions: Doctors

C-section is a type of major surgery, which carries risks that require careful consideration

0
c-section, postpartum depression
A newborn, one of 12 babies born by C-section, cries inside an incubator at the Bunda Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 12, 2012. Several hospitals in Indonesia's main cities performed more cesareans than usual with new mothers hoping a 12-12-12 birth date will bring luck to their newborns. VOA

Worldwide cesarean section use has nearly doubled in two decades and has reached “epidemic” proportions in some countries, doctors warned Friday, highlighting a huge gap in childbirth care between rich and poor mothers.

They said millions of women each year may be putting themselves and their babies at unnecessary risk by undergoing C-sections at rates “that have virtually nothing to do with evidence-based medicine.”

In 2015, the most recent year for which complete data is available, doctors performed 29.7 million C-sections worldwide, or 21 percent of all births. This was up from 16 million in 2000, or 12 percent of all births, according to research published in The Lancet.

It is estimated that the operation, a vital surgical procedure when complications occur during birth, is necessary 10-15 percent of the time.

c-section
The Yusuf Dantsoho Memorial Hospital has a high success rate with C-sections. Kaduna, Nigeria. Photo by Chika Oduah, VOA

Varying country rates

But the research found wildly varying country rates of C-section use, often according to economic status: In at least 15 countries, more than 40 percent births are performed using the practice, often on wealthier women in private facilities.

In Brazil, Egypt and Turkey, more than half of all births are done via C-section.

The Dominican Republic has the highest rate of any nation, with 58.1 percent of all babies delivered using the procedure.

But in close to a quarter of nations surveyed, C-section use is significantly lower than average.

c-section
Maternal death and disability rates are higher after C-section Flickr

Reasons to opt for surgery

Authors pointed out that while the procedure is generally overused in many middle- and high-income settings, women in low-income situations often lack necessary access to what can be a life-saving procedure.

“We would not expect such differences between countries, between women by socioeconomic status or between provinces/states within countries based on obstetric need,” Ties Boerma, professor of public health at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, and a lead author on the study, told AFP.

Jane Sandall, professor of social science and women’s health at King’s College London and a study author, told AFP that there were a variety of reasons women were increasingly opting for surgery.

These include “a lack of midwives to prevent and detect problems, loss of medical skills to confidently and competently attend a vaginal delivery, as well as medico-legal issues.”

C-section
It also identified an emerging gap between wealthy and poorer regions within the same country. Flickr

Doctors are often tempted to organize C-sections to ease the flow of patients through a maternity clinic, and medical professionals are generally less vulnerable to legal action if they choose an operation over a natural birth.

Sandall also said there were often “financial incentives for both doctor and hospital” to perform the procedure.

The study warned that in many settings young doctors were becoming “experts” in C-section while losing confidence in their abilities when it comes to natural birth.

Income a factor

It also identified an emerging gap between wealthy and poorer regions within the same country. In China, C-section rates diverged from 4 percent to 62 percent; in India the range was 7-49 percent.

C-sections
Worldwide, more than 11 percent of babies are born premature. Pixabay

While the U.S. saw more than a quarter of all births performed by C-section, some states used the procedure more than twice as often as others.

“It is clear that poor countries have low C-section use because access to services is a problem,” Sandall said. “In many of those countries, however, richer women who live in urban areas, have access to private facilities have much higher C-section use.”

Risks to mother, child

C-sections may be marketed by clinics as the “easy” way to give birth, but they are not without risks.

Maternal death and disability rates are higher after C-section than vaginal birth. The procedure scars the womb, which can lead to bleeding, ectopic pregnancies (where the embryo is stuck in the ovaries), as well as still- and premature future births.

 

c-section
Doctors are often tempted to organize C-sections to ease the flow of patients through a maternity clinic. Flickr

 

The authors suggested better education, more midwifery-led care and improved labor planning as ways of ensuring C-sections are only performed when medically necessary, as well as ensuring women properly understand the risks involved with the procedure.

“C-section is a type of major surgery, which carries risks that require careful consideration,” Sandall said.

Also Read: Novel Blood Test May Predict Autism Risk In Babies During Pregnancy

In a comment accompanying the study, Gerard Visser of the University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, called the rise in C-sections “alarming.”

“The medical profession on its own cannot reverse this trend,” he said. “Joint actions are urgently needed to stop unnecessary C-sections and enable women and families to be confident of receiving the most appropriate care for their circumstances.”