Urgent Action Needed to Protect Iraqi Women

Women who are fleeing their homes in terror — many with traumatized children in their care — are being barred by Iraqi troops from entering safer areas because they are Sunni. This sectarian discrimination is a human rights violation. It's also a direct consequence of US policies. Click here to learn more about the US government’s role in the crisis.

And click here to read the MADRE Q&A, "Understanding Iraq's New Civil War: A Women's Rights Perspective."

Not long ago, Lela had a home and a family — a husband, daughter and son. Then men with guns from an extremist group called ISIS arrived in her town They took everything away from her. Her husband and 8-year-old son were murdered. And her 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped. Devastated and alone, Lela had nowhere to turn. Then, one of our Iraqi partners found her. Lela is currently at a MADRE-supported shelter, getting the care and support she needs.

Lela’s story is not unique. As soon as ISIS militias stormed into northern Iraq, their perverse demands started. Families should give over their daughters to the militants for sex, all in the name of God’s will.

They’re calling this “duty” of women and girls “sexual jihad.” But you and I know what it really is: rape. Families that do not comply with their twisted demands face severe beatings and death. And it’s getting worse.

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Women are fleeing for their lives, escaping rape and other brutalities. Many large aid organizations have pulled their staff out of Iraq because it’s too dangerous. And the government is not providing for its citizens.

Our partners at the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq are one of the only ones working on the ground to protect women and families. Already, OWFI is offering shelter, food and care to hundreds of displaced Iraqi women and their children.

They asked for our help to reach even more women. Please say you’ll be there for them with a tax-deductible gift today. Your generosity will:

  • Open a much-needed safe-house for rape survivors and women fleeing abuse in an ISIS-controlled town in northern Iraq (for our partners’ safety, we cannot reveal the name of the town). You’ll provide food, water and clean clothes for women and girls escaping rape, kidnapping and forced marriage. And you’ll stock the shelter with a generator, mattresses, sheets, blankets, pillows and towels. 
  • Fortify our partners’ nearby clinic, the only one of its kind in the region that will offer healthcare to women affected by rape and other violence, with medicine and basic first aid supplies. 
  • Provide safe birthing kits and other materials for an emergency maternity center for women in labor who are prevented by the violence from reaching a hospital.
  • Distribute food packages of rice, lentils, cooking oil, sugar, milk and tomato paste for women and children who fled their homes with only the clothes on their backs.

When a crisis like this one strikes, I know you ask yourself the same question I do: What can I do to help? The answer is not always clear. But now, you have a clear path to action. Your gift today will help our sisters offer shelter, food and medical care to women and families under threat. Please say you’ll be there for them with a tax-deductible gift today.

Donate.jpgWith gratitude,

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Yifat Susskind
MADRE Executive Director

P.S. Your support of MADRE puts you right there, hand-in-hand with our Iraqi sisters. Your gift will help MADRE and our partner organization OWFI protect women and girls from rape, trafficking and forced marriage. You'll provide shelter, humanitarian aid and healthcare. Please make a tax-deductible gift today.