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Yazidi women and the rehabilitation of victims of violence

“I do not know if I would still be alive if I had stayed in Iraq. Now I am stronger than before, I feel stronger than Daesh. But my story is just one among thousands" said Farida Abbas, survivor of ISIS violence, to the members of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination at a hearing on 25 January 2017 in Strasbourg.

She gave a moving testimony as a victim of gender-based violence, as a refugee and Yazidi woman. Farida Abbas was abducted by Daesh in Iraki Kurdistan and taken to Syria, where she suffered extreme physical and psychological violence. She managed to escape and participates now in the Special Quota Project in the Land of Baden-Württemberg, which provides support and assistance to 1,100 refugee women survivors of violence. “The rehabilitation of victims of gender-based violence is crucial. We got our lives back thanks to this assistance programme”, stressed Ms Abbas. “I call on all present to help the Yazidi community, more than 10,000 Yazidis have been killed to date”, she continued.

Michael Blume, Head of the Special Quota Project, presented this initiative and made an appeal for the setting up of specific humanitarian programmes for vulnerable groups such as single women with or without children. “It is possible for small States to help victims of violence and make a difference. I hope our experience can inspire others. Every life saved is worth the effort”, said Dr Blume.

The hearing was held in the framework of the preparation of a report by Gisela Wurm (Austria, SOC) on Protecting refugee women from gender-based violence. Ms Wurm reported on her fact-finding visit to Sweden (December 2016) and meetings she had with refugee women. “With this report, I will call once more for the ratification and full implementation of the Istanbul Convention to protect all women from gender-based violence. I also intend to make an appeal for the creation of specific assistance programmes for refugee women victims of violence”, concluded Ms Wurm while thanking the guest speakers.