|© Ari Jala / Reuters|
A report looking into the post-ISIS fate of Yazidi women in Iraq was posted on the human rights organization’s website by Rothna Begum, a WRD researcher, on Wednesday.
One of them, a girl named Luna, says she was kidnapped by Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants, sold four times, and raped by all of her “owners.”
“Survivors my colleague and I interviewed, described organized rape, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS,” the report reads.
The victims described in the report were in need of psychological help, health care, and other services. While officials in Iraqi Kurdistan took their plight seriously, they still forced the girls and women to undergo “virginity tests” to confirm that they had been abused.
“These tests were seen as evidence of rape by Iraqi courts,” Begum wrote.
Virginity exams, which are conducted out of cultural or religious beliefs, are commonly used in many parts of the world, including India, Turkey, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Indonesia, and South Africa.
However, such tests have been long been under fire by the World Health Organization, which has pointed out that they can cause pain and psychological harm.
“There is no place for virginity testing; it has no scientific validity,” stresses the WHO.
Testing to end
The good news is that the HRW has now received assurances by Kurdish officials that the practice will now end. A chief judge at the Dohuk Appeal Court, which is located in the capital of Kurdistan’s Dohuk Governorate, told the NGO that the committee tasked with collecting evidence has stopped using the tests and adopted a new reporting method in line with UN recommendations.
“The health directorate in Dohuk adopted a new medical examination report on sexual violence based on UN recommendations, consistent with human rights and best practice,” Begum writes.