Imagine trying to comprehend the circumstances through her young eyes. Imagine not being able to leave your house for more than two years because you are a female. This has been the daily reality of home imprisonment for women and girls confined under ISIS occupation in Mosul for more than two years. They were not only confined but they were cut off from all forms of telephonic, media, and internet communication. Having been silenced and confined to their homes for more than two years, many different families began to surround me during a UN Women visit to an IDP camp, yearning to share their experiences, and, for their voices to be heard. The experiences of one family is shared whom I shall refer to as the Mohamad Family.
Through a series of articles that are focusing on providing a Voice for Dignity in our Humanity, UN Women Iraq is lending a voice for advocacy of women and girls who have been silenced and restricted for more than two years by ISIS.
The Mohamad Family
Consisting of a family of nine, the most senior daughter, who is now 19 and was married at 14 years of age shared of her family’s experience. She shares the following: “I came from a poor family. Even though we were poor, we had a peaceful life in Mosul before ISIS. I completed up until primary 3 for school and was married at age 14. During ISIS, it was a very difficult life for us. I could not leave the house for more than two years. I could not use my mobile phone or watch TV. ISIS issued a $500 fine to my family for turning on the TV. For three years, I could not communicate with family members out of Mosul who were in another camp. We were informed that those who are caught using a phone would immediately be executed by cutting our heads off in public. I had to cover all parts of my body with the exception of my eyes. One day, while washing clothes and drying the clothes on the roof of my house, ISIS saw me exposing my face. My hair was covered and every other part of my body was covered but my nose and mouth were showing. ISIS came to my gate and commanded my husband and I to come out. They took my husband’s ID. I was instructed to hold my husband’s face down to the sand with my foot as ISIS flogged him severely in public because I was exposed. My husband was also instructed to pay a $50 fine to ISIS. Some of my friends have been taken as wives by ISIS, and, many have been raped. When I think about the future, my goal is to return back to a safe and peaceful Mosul.”
Aisha, 9 years old
Back to Aisha, a recent IDP arrival from Mosul…Imagine the world that she is seeing in her youth. A world that she does not understand. A world where she was once playing in the beautiful city of Mosul but is now confined and has to be fully covered. On the first day of her arrival, she approached me crying. Unfortunately, there are many girls like her who have been traumatized from ISIS occupation and now have to settle in unknown territory.
Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women Deputy Country Representative states that “Girls like Aisha have suffered through intense trauma relocating from their homes to having no beds or supplies. More funding is needed for UN Women to cater to the livelihood needs of women and girls in IDP camps.”
All women and girls have been confined to their homes for more than two years with no contact with the outside world, and have been stripped of their dignity, livelihood, and empowerment. UN Women seeks to help all women and girls lead productive lives through empowerment, leadership and livelihood activities. To aid internally displaced women in sharing their voice, UN Women will be establishing listening centers in IDP camps and host communities, and will provide ongoing services for lifting women as transformative agents for their communities.
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.