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05 March 2015

International Women’s Day: Set an example against sexualised violence

Press Release: Cologne, March 5, 2015. For International Women’s Day on March 8, the women’s rights organisation medica mondiale is calling on the German federal government to finally declare sexualised wartime violence as a priority issue in the country’s foreign and security policies. “Currently, women and girls in the crisis area of Syria/Northern Iraq are severely affected by sexualised violence and in urgent need of support,” explains Monika Hauser, founder of medica mondiale. The German government and international community should not restrict their humanitarian assistance to funding emergency aid but also commit themselves consistently to the prevention of sexualised wartime violence. One suitable opportunity for this is the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April in Lübeck, Germany, when practical measures to protect women during armed conflicts should be agreed.

medica mondiale is currently supporting the Turkish women’s organisation “The Association of Legal Aid Against Sexual Violence”. Its staff are working in refugee camps on the Turkish-Syrian border to document cases of sexualised violence in order to pursue them in court at a later date. They are also arranging for medical and psychosocial assistance. Furthermore, the Cologne-based women’s rights organisation is planning together with local partner organisations in Northern Iraq to conduct training courses for doctors, care workers and psychologists. In addition to psychosocial first aid and counselling, the training will also cover the approach medica mondiale has developed for trauma-sensitive treatment of survivors.

According to figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are currently 3.7 million Syrians registered as refugees in the neighbouring countries Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. On the way there, women and girls suffer massive sexual harassment at checkpoints, says Ms Hauser. Thousands of women have been kidnapped, raped and/or enslaved in the areas controlled by the terrorist organisation Islamic State. All of the region’s refugee camps and emergency accommodation suffer from a lack of women’s centres, specialist staff, safe spaces and long-term psychosocial support for survivors of sexualised violence.