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UN rights experts urge Iraq to ensure justice for Islamic State sexual abuse victims

[JURIST] The UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) [official website] published a report [text, PDF] on Tuesday urging the Iraqi government to ensure the rights of those individuals sexually victimized by Islamic State (IS) forces. According to the report, thousands of women and girls have been subjected to physical and mental abuses as result of sexual assault, abduction, slavery, displacement, forced religion changes, and other forms of inhumane treatment. While the Iraqi government has taken some positive steps to address these abuses, the report states that the government is legally obligated to ensure that all victims have proper access to justice, receive adequate care for recovery, and may be reintegrated into their families and communities. The report also calls on the government to prevent women and children from being discriminated against due to their connections with IS. As UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] stated [press release], "Children who were born in ISIL-controlled areas have the same legal rights as any other Iraqi citizen, and the Government must ensure they are protected from marginalisation and abuse." The report concludes with various recommendations for the government including improvements to the judicial system, increased access to supportive services, and raising awareness for the rights of all victims.

The preservation of human rights and equal treatment of women continues to be an international concern. In June Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] stated [JURIST report] that millions of pregnant and married girls across Africa are being denied education due to discriminatory policies. Also in June a UN expert presented a report [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council calling for governments to do more to reduce violence against women and LGBTQI individuals. That same day the Delaware legislature approved a bill [JURIST report] that guarantees access to abortion. Conversely, the day before Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed [JURIST report] a series of abortion regulations into law. In March HRW sent a letter and a memorandum to the speaker of the Iraqi parliament with recommendations [JURIST report] for amendments to a proposed domestic violence bill. Also in March the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women urged [JURIST report] the government of Australia to include all women in the fight to end gender-based violence.

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