We can end rape as a weapon of war in our lifetime. Momentum is already building towards this goal: world leaders have finally recognized what women’s human rights activists have said for decades. Rape is not incidental to warfare: it is a weapon. It is deliberately used to traumatize women and terrorize their entire communities.
We see this across our work. In Iraq, armed militants have kidnapped, raped and sold women in the towns they have seized. In Colombia, young girls recruited as child soldiers have been turned into sex slaves. When asked why they fled their homes, Syrian women refugees said that fear of rape was a number one reason. And women in Guatemala are still rebuilding their lives after being targeted with rape in the genocide of the 1980s.
Through our Ending Rape as a Weapon of War initiative, MADRE partners with grassroots women's organizations to set up emergency shelters, hotlines and escape routes for women and girls fleeing sexual violence, with a focus on preventing this abuse. And we bring women's voices to policy-making spaces to hold governments accountable to their commitments to end wartime rape.
"Women Confronting ISIS: How Can We End Rape as a Weapon of War?"
In the nearly two years since ISIS invaded Iraq, we’ve heard countless stories of despair. Of entire families killed, of girls and women raped and sold into sexual slavery. It’s easy to feel helpless after hearing such horrific stories.
But amid these horrors, there are glimmers of hope. Take Awaz and Fairoz, for example.
We can help women experiencing sexual violence and eliminate rape as a weapon of war in our lifetime. MADRE and our allies provide a blueprint for policymakers on how to meet their obligation of protecting and advancing women's human rights.