ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Women and children suspected of having ties to the Islamic State (IS) are being denied humanitarian aid, prevented from returning to their homes, and subjected to sexual violence, an international human rights group charged on Monday.
“Cast out of their communities, these families have nowhere and no one to turn to. They are trapped in camps, ostracized and denied food, water and other essentials," said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.
"This humiliating collective punishment risks laying the foundation for future violence.”
The report reveals widespread discrimination against women living in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) by security forces, camp administrators, and local authorities who believe these women are affiliated to IS.
'The Condemned: Women and Children Isolated, Trapped and Exploited in Iraq' also claims that sexual exploitation was occurring in each of the eight camps that the organization's researchers visited.
It details the plight of thousands of female-headed families who have been left to fend for themselves in IDP camps after male family members were killed, arbitrarily arrested, or forcibly disappeared while fleeing IS-held areas in and around Mosul.
"In many cases, the men’s only 'crime' was escaping an IS stronghold, having similar names to those on questionable 'wanted lists,'" said Amnesty International.
According to the report and various local and international NGOs, even when no link to IS is suspected, female-led households in camps for internally displaced persons (IDP) are normally at high risk for abuse, mistreatment, and deprivation of food and healthcare, but those seen as having ties to the militants are particularly targeted.
"Desperate and isolated, the women are at heightened risk of sexual exploitation by security forces, armed guards and members of militias working in and near the camps," read the report.
It continued, detailing that women "were being coerced and pressured into entering sexual relationships in exchange for desperately needed cash, humanitarian aid, and protection from other men."
"These women are also at risk of rape. Four women told Amnesty International they had either witnessed rape directly or heard the screams of a woman in a nearby tent who was being raped by armed men, members of the camp administration or other camp residents."
A 20-year-old woman said she faced relentless pressure to have sex with a member of the security forces in her camp.
“Because they consider me the same as an IS fighter, they will rape me and return me back," she said. "They want to show everyone what they can do to me – to take away my honour."
Nearly four million Iraqis were displaced after IS began taking control of towns and cities over much of Iraq in mid-2014.