Photos taken from "Protest Camp for Stolen Women and Children Face Book page and CPT Iraqi Kurdistan)
Today as I sit in Quito, Ecudor as a participant in the Christian Peacemaker Teams bi- annual gathering, messages are coming from both of my communities on two sides of the world. The calls have similar themes: sisters are being stolen; violence against women must be investigated; violence against women must stop.
From Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, where my CPT team has been working with our partners in the situation of thousands of displaced minority groups came a call from the Kurdish women’s group, Jian (life). . They proclaimed Sunday Agust 24 as a day for a civil demonstration on behalf of the Yazidi women who have been captured and enslaved in the city of Mosul by members of the militant group known as IS (Islamic State). Clandestine phone calls from a few of these women spoke of desperate conditions and horrific abusive treatment. They told of women and girls being forced to become wives of fighters and others sold into slavery.
Sixty activists from several women’s organisations and other civil society groups gathered in front of the United Nations office in the capital city of Hawler/Erbil. They demanded that the U.N. do more to help the Yazidi women and girls who are enslaved by the militant group. At the end of the march several activists were able to take their message into the U.N. building to ask the representatives and the Kurdish Regional Government to act on this emergency and to take urgent measures to help the vulnerable women.
Stop ISIS Brutalizing Against Yazidi Girls
" U.N., Take Action, Our Women and Girls are Enslaved,”
Speaking to the media
At the same time, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada a group of Anishnabe women have created a protest camp on a strip of land outside the Manitoba government legislature. They are saying to the Canadian government that they have waited long enough for an investigation regarding the 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
The impetus for this protest is the murder of 15 year old Tina Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in a plastic bag in the Red River two weeks ago. The Canadian federal government still refuses to acknowledge that the numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women are important enough to declare a national inquiry. As Justice Minister Peter MacKay rejected calls for an inquiry, he said "the government is addressing the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women in other ways." Yet, the indigenous women of Canada are still disappearing and are sometimes found as bodies without life.
These are messages from the women of two minority cultures. They echo each other across the world-women are being treated as rubbish, something to be used and thrown away. This must stop. The world must take seriously the cries and work to create safety for the women: the Yazidi women in Northern Iraq and the Aboriginal women of Canada.
Speaking with the media
The Protest tent camp (photo credit- Chris Swan)
* **“Is now the time to make that change? Is now the time we say no sisters more stolen? We say that violence against women must stop. And if we go home and do nothing about this it’s a missed opportunity,” -----Wab Kinew. (Canadian Indigenous musician)