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Cairo seminar exposes women’s rights violations by terrorist groups during armed conflicts

The Arab Initiative for Education and Development has warned against the violations of women’s rights by terrorist organizations during armed conflicts.

This came during a seminar on “Violations of women’s rights in periods of armed conflict”, held in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Tuesday, with the participation of a pool of intellectuals and those interested in Arab cultural and human rights activities.

In her speech at the seminar, Chairperson of the Arab Initiative for Education and Development Dr. Wesam Basindowah highlighted the march of this civil institution since its inception in 2012. She also announced the establishment of the institution’s Research and Studies Unit, as well as its next year’s program, which will focus on the issue of transitional justice.

The seminar program included three main interventions. The first intervention was by Syrian journalist Najla Bitar, the founder of the Watan Foundation for Syrian Refugees in Egypt, who spoke about the situation of women in Syria during the years of war, the effects of wars and conflicts on women, and the role of women’s rights organizations. She also highlighted the human rights violations carried out by terrorist group Daesh (also known as ISIS), in its areas of control, against women.

In the second intervention, Nabil Fadel, head of the Yemen Organization for Combating Human Trafficking, spoke of the abuses committed by the Houthi militias against Yemeni women, including abduction, enforced disappearance, torture, extortion and exploitation in various forms. He noted that the Houthi militias exploit female inmates and recruit them in militant groups.

In her intervention, Yemen’s former Human Rights Minister Huriah Mashhour confirmed that it was the Houthis who obstructed the transitional phase from the very beginning of the national dialogue until they overthrew the legitimate government in September 2014.

Ms. Mashhour stressed the need for building peace, saying that the violations against women can only be stopped by overcoming the stages of conflict and dispute as well as reaching a stage of just, comprehensive and sustainable peace. She added that these violations can then be addressed through transitional justice measures, including reparations for victims and accountability of perpetrators.

The seminar featured presentations of pictures showing violations against women and girls in countries affected by wars and armed conflicts, and infringements of women’s rights. The direct consequences of these violations include killings, arrests, abductions, torture and physical assault, while the indirect effects on women resulting from the killing or enforced disappearance of their husbands include women being the family breadwinners. This is, in addition, to the psychological impacts of forced displacement and loss of children, brothers or parents.

The seminar also featured testimonies of girls and women who had been subjected to abduction, arrest and rape by armed gangs and terrorist organizations.

The interventions and speeches included several practical proposals, such as the establishment of “Arab Female Prisoners” organization, to highlight the suffering of extrajudicially detained Arab women, the setting up of a Women’s Media Observatory to follow up and highlight these violations, and a proposal on the need to activate mechanisms to monitor women’s rights violations.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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