I fought back and survived
Women and girls in Iraq have faced various forms of sexual and gender-based violence as a result of armed conflicts and political instability that have ravaged Iraq in recent decades. Violence against women, particularly sexual violence, is rooted in structural causes related to patriarchal systems and traditions, and enabled by weak laws; the lack of institutional, community and family support; and the prevalence of a ‘culture of silence’, as many women and girls do not report violence for fear of repercussions due to the stigma associated with sexual violence and to victim blaming. In most cases of sexual violence, the victims deem it futile to speak up if the judicial system lacks the appropriate mechanisms and measures to punish perpetrators and bring justice to victims. As a result, violations against women and girls have remained largely invisible, leading to their persistence and aggravation
In an effort to break the ‘culture of silence’ and destigmatise victims, Impunity Watch and Iraqi Al-Amal Association have created this booklet, in Arabic and English, of survivors’ stories to highlight the sexual and gender-based violence that took place in Iraq during 2003-2018, and that is still ongoing in many parts of the country. The booklet is based on the testimonies and experiences of Iraqi women, collected by women activists from five Iraqi regions (Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk, Salah ad-Din and Sinjar). These activists attended trainings by Impunity Watch and Iraqi Al-Amal Association on specific skills to ensure that they conducted these interviews in accordance with the appropriate ethical and humanitarian standards, and took into account the sensitivity of the contexts surrounding women survivors of sexual violence. These activists played a key role in helping Iraqi women tell their painful, untold stories and sharing them with the world.