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Global Women's Rights Group Launches Case for Prosecution of ISIS Crimes Against Women and LGBTIQ Persons

View the full MADRE OWFI CUNY Communication to the ICC on Gender-Based Crimes in Iraq

Event features conversation with Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

New York, NY — A new petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding ISIS crimes will be the first of its kind, seeking to advance protection of the rights of women and LGBTIQ people on the international stage.

Filed jointly by three non-governmental organizations—MADRE, the Human Rights and Gender Justice (HRGJ) Clinic of the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI)—the petition makes the case that the International Criminal Court should prosecute ISIS fighters for crimes they have committed on the basis of gender, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In advance of the petition submission, the initiative will launch with an event titled "Women Confronting ISIS: Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court and Beyond" featuring Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on Wednesday, November 8 at 3:00pm in the CUNY Law School. Joining the conversation will be representatives from MADRE, Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), IraQueer, and OutRight Action International, among others.

In Iraq - including in areas controlled by ISIS - women, girls, LGBTIQ people, and those otherwise perceived as stepping outside of traditional gender roles have been targeted for violence on a staggering scale. People have been brutalized, tortured, and killed because of their gender and gender expression. These acts are committed openly and have been well-documented, yet criminal tribunals have not accounted for the gender-based persecution behind these crimes.

"This is the first time the world has seen this kind of robust documentation of crimes against both women and LGBTIQ persons because of their gender during an armed conflict, and it’s a moment in history to finally challenge these types of crimes," said Yanar Mohammed, Director of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI).

"Prosecution of gender-based crimes committed by ISIS fighters would send the message that similar crimes tolerated in the rest of Iraq, such as rape and honor killings, will not go unpunished. It would also show victims of gender-based violence all over the world that they are not alone and what has happened to them is not acceptable," said Lisa Davis, Esq., Human Rights Advocacy Director at MADRE.

The success of this petition could change the landscape of international criminal law, both highlighting and addressing the long-standing targeting of civilians based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity in the context of war and conflict. Appropriate action by the International Criminal Court would set a new precedent for prosecuting gender-based crimes and create a tool for human rights advocates worldwide.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 3:00 PM

CUNY Law School, 2 Ct Square W, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Two subway stops from the United Nations)

3:00     Doors Open

3:10    Opening remarks

3:15    Q&A with Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

4:00     Discussion panel with

Patricia Viseur-Sellers, Special Advisor to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC

Yanar Mohammed, Founder and Director, Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI)

Amir Ashour, Founder, IraQueer

Lisa Davis, Clinical Professor of Law for the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, CUNY Law School, and Human Rights Advocacy Director for MADRE

Maria Sjodin, Deputy Director, OutRight Action International

Yifat Susskind, Executive Director, MADRE

Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Advisor, Executive Office of the Secretary General (moderator)

5:30-7:30    Reception

Please find the event flier here.

To RSVP, email

The event will also be livestreamed at

For more information, or to arrange interviews, contact:

Lisa Davis, Advocacy Director, 202-361-8581,

Advance pre-filed copy of the communication to the International Criminal Court available upon request.


October 30, 2017  / Middle East / Iraq / Ending Gender Violence