FINALIST: Supporting Survivors: Women's Rights

Ask questions for the Supporting Survivors: Women’s Rights project here!

Supporting Survivors: Women’s Rights
The Lotus Flower, Iraq

ABOUT: Our project is designed to increase capacity for remote and online support for female ISIS survivors who have been most severely impacted by COVID-19. There has been a universally-acknowledged rise in violence and sexual abuse against women and girl refugees and IDPs during the pandemic, causing an escalating mental health crisis. But while their needs are greater than ever, the pandemic has severely harmed our usual programming and face-to-face support. We therefore aim to shift more of our awareness sessions, classes, and therapy to remote and online delivery, while also securing dedicated legal representation for violence and abuse victims.

Learn more about this project on the World Justice Challenge website.

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Hello! I am an Associate on the Criminal Justice Research team here at the World Justice Project.

I really enjoyed seeing your presentation last week. The work you do is so critical and it is wonderful hearing the impact that you have been able to make.

I am wondering if you could answer two of my questions:

  1. Generally, are there paths for legal recourse for those you support? And have these avenues been affected by the pandemic?
  2. Can you share a story or anecdote in which you witnessed one of the women or girls you support in finding their voice or in playing a greater role in their community?

Thank you!

Hi there Lindsey, thanks so much for your kind comments about the presentation last week, and also for your interest and questions about the Lotus Flower.

In answer, I would say:

  1. Legal recourse has been difficult, made even more so with the Covid restrictions on international NGOs and mobility. Prior to lockdown, we would refer legal cases to other NGOs but we are no longer able to do so as most NGOs are not returning to in-person services in the camps. Women in displacement cannot travel to their offices as the camps are 30-45 minutes to the city center and private transportation is expensive. This award would enable us to hire a lawyer to directly provide legal consultation and services.
    In regards to the justice system in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the Kurdish parliament passed a gender-based violence and domestic violence law in 2013 that fully supports the rights of women, especially survivors of GBV, and enacts strict punishment for perpetrators. There is government support to reduce GBV and criminalize the perpetrators of these acts.

  2. We have SO many positive stories and anecdotes about women finding their voice. But one recent story that springs to mind concerns a woman who our psychologist has been supporting within one of the camps. She previously worked as a nurse in Syria, but was forced to flee with her husband and five children and live as refugees. When they arrived in Kurdistan, her husband changed for the worse, and she suffered from serious physical and mental abuse. This badly increased during the Covid lockdown. As a result, she decided to take action and divorce her husband, and she has recently been working with our psychologist to overcome depression, and learn how to better support her children. Mental health is a huge and growing problem area, and this award would help us increase our support for so many women who are in a similar situation to this.

I do hope this helps. Again, it was great to hear from you.

Many thanks,
Krystal Garvin, International Project Manager

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Hi Krystal,

Thank you so much for these thorough responses. This provides me with even more context about the amazing work you all do and the future impact that you will continue to make. I look forward to seeing your work in the future. Good luck!

Best,
Lindsey Bock
Criminal Justice Program Associate

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