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Reimagining Justice

Prosecuting ISIS Crimes against Women and LGBTIQ People

International law is a powerful – but underutilized – tool to bring our vision of social justice to life.

In years past, women’s rights advocates have fought for laws to prosecute rape as a weapon of war. We’ve fought for sexual slavery to be understood as a war crime, rather than an unfortunate, incidental feature of warfare.

In Iraq, extremists have made women and LGBTIQ people the targets of their violent agenda, including in the areas where ISIS ruled. Women have been killed for working outside the home, for dressing against strict codes, for being community leaders – in short, for being the “wrong” kind of woman. LGBTIQ people have been issued death warrants and killed. Even people accused of dressing the wrong way or refusing to join militias have been murdered.

These are people brutalized and killed exactly because of their gender and gender expression. Yet, international law doesn’t account for the motives behind these violations. To protect lives and pursue justice, we need to look at why people are targeted.

Two Iraqi women in traditional garb walk away from camera.
Seeking Justice for ISIS Rights Abuses: The Next Phase

We brought a petition to the International Criminal Court. It's the first of its kind – an ICC petition advancing the rights of women and LGBTIQ people.

Now, we're working with United Nations investigative teams to hold ISIS accountable.

Here’s How ISIS Could Be Charged At The International Criminal Court

BuzzFeed reporter J. Lester Feder breaks down the road to the formal petition and how the International Criminal Court will hear the case.

The Wrong Kind of Woman: A Timeline of ISIS Killings Due to Gender Expression

An illuminating timeline of documented incidences of women killed by ISIS because of their gender expression, including defying ISIS ascribed roles, behaviors, dress, and other gender attributes.

We have partnered with grassroots women in Iraq to help solve this epidemic and bring justice and healing to everyone in their communities.

Now, we’re working to make international law even more powerful – to protect even more lives. A victory with this petition would mean that, under international law, ISIS can’t kill a woman for refusing marriage. It means that ISIS can’t murder a lesbian for her identity. It would set a precedent and create a new tool for rights advocates to use. And it would deepen linkages between global women’s and LGBTIQ rights movements.

Stand With Our Iraqi Partners

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) is doing vital work in areas like Mosul and Kirkuk. These brave activists are pioneering work to rebuild Iraq with secular democracy and human rights for all.