ISIS and Sex Slavery
Moving from Condemnation to Action
I visited The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on Wednesday October 5th 2016 from 2:00p.m to 4:30p.m. The Event started by welcoming remarks by Ambassador William B. Taylor The executive President of the USIP and Mrs. Cindy Hensley McCain Chair of the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council. After That Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura The US special Representative of the secretary-General on sexual Violence In Conflict gave her speech on Sexual Violence and the way it is seen through some cultures and societies. Some of the remarkable things she states in her speech that when we think of terrorism we don’t think of sexual violence and that it has become an ideologist activity. She also talks about the survivors of Isis and the treatment they get after the trauma they experience such as, psychosocial and medical support because those women face problems within their societies and families, they are seen as a shame rather than victims when they are in the most need of being welcomed and accepted which she mention is the leaders job to change that mind set. After the speech there was a discussion lead by Ms. Elise Labott (moderator) Global Affairs Correspondent at CNN, Mr. Sarhang Hamasaeed Senior Program Officer for Middle East Programs at USIP, Ambassador Mark P. Lagon Distinguished Senior Scholar and Centennial Fellow at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, and Ms. Zainab. They discuss Sex trafficking and Violence against women by Isis is one of the things we don’t hear about as we hear about other things. Mr. Hamasaeed talks about sexual Violence in Middle East and Yazidi women (women who escaped ISIS) the issue is not about sex or money but power, control, and destruction. He explains the Religion and how it’s used by ISIS but its not an actual reason, he states that one way to deal with that issue is to take this mindset and deal with it. They discuss those women and how they are treated as slaves/property not even seen as women, owners buy and sell them in market places sometimes a women is sold for 21 times trying not to get them pregnant or else they would lose their value in the market and mentioning the excessive drinking to the point they start loosing some of their memory. Yazidi women are not only the victims of ISIS sex violence, there are others however we don’t hear about them more frequently because their community accepts them. Yet Yazidi’s is a very small and traditional community and sometimes-high level of shame would result in those women committing suicide. Finally, They mention that ISIS is very systematic and fighting force from all aspects. At the end of the discussion they give the audience the opportunity to ask questions answered by the guests who were mentioned earlier.
On May 8, 2014 I attended the Sheikha Fatima Lectureship held at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. This was there second annual event and I learned a great deal from them. The event was about how her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, who founded the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and contributed to the naming of the north atrium of the U.S Institute for Peace “International Women’s Commons” to help advance the progress of women as peacemakers. The event included speakers such as Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States; Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Executive Chairman of the AMAR International Charitable Foundation; Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women; Moderator Jill Doughtery, a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; Kristin Lord, Acting President of the United States Institute of Peace; and Kathleen Kuehnast, director of the Center for Gender & Peace building at USIP.
The event in all was wonderful. They began with light refreshments and small talk before beginning the discussion. As I went to sit down in the Carlucci Auditorium, the room itself was art. They played a short video on the screen up front to keep you entertained until the main event, and in just watching the video I knew I would be interested in the next two hours of discussion. The conversation began, and I was tuned to listen.
I was able to clearly relate to the discussion about women and their lead for peace. The woman and gentlemen who went up to the podium to speak were not long-winded nor were they too short. I remember distinctly one woman, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, discussing how she had done her part in the movement for peace around the world in delivering healthcare and education to millions all over the world. She told a story of how she went to a small village in the Philippines and convinced a young girl to learn how to use a computer instead of continuing in her mother’s footsteps as a weaver, putting her more than 5000 years into the future (figuratively). This story was amazing and really made me realize just how much help Women have done all over the world to help advance societies.
That was just a small part of what I learned from the event. The women were truly magnificent in magnifying their leadership so far. This event truly impacted some of the ways that I think and have changed my attitude towards international women. It’s amazing the doors that are open for women and that are continuously being opened for other societies. I hope to maybe be as inspirational as those women who were to me today.
I went to the U.S Institute of Peace in Washington D.C. to learn about the elections that were just held in Afghanistan. First off it was a brand new facility and very very nice. The lecture was held in a lecture like classroom. I believe C-SPAN was covering the event. There was a group of four men on stage in a panel and they were on Skype with a panel that were located in Kabul, Afghanistan. I thought this was totally awesome. Although there were issues with video quality and sound, I heard enough to write this summary. The elections were important because it can mark the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history. Basically, its a real test for Afghanistan’s governmental institutions. The three front-runners for election are: Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister… Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister, and Zalmai Rassoul, a former foreign minister. The panels discussed two possible scenarios and how a run-off would be very possible. They suggested it could still be awhile before an election winner is announced.
The most intriguing part for me is how they talked about the Taliban involvement. The Taliban have stated that elections are illegitimate and that they will consider everyone who participates to be a legitimate target. They unleashed a wave of violence against election-related and other targets, including intimidation of people at the polls. The panel discussed how in the end though, the Taliban came out as losers and Afghanistan and security forces came out as winners due to the turn of the elections. I heard that 60% of Afghanistan is 25 or younger and it was a huge turnout for the younger generation.
The key phrase that stood out to me was a little anecdote. One of the members on stage grew up in Afghanistan during the war with the Soviet Union. He said when he was little, they would pretend to fight, shoot guns. He then went on to say that when he visited last and the recent photos that have went viral, kids now put a red dot on their finger while playing and pretending to vote. This is a sign that is really encouraging for the future of Afghanistan.
On April 5, 2013 I went to the United States Peace Institute to attend a panel discussion on the upcoming afghan elections next year. There were four senior experts on the subject who each gave their views and suggestions on the elections as we go into preparing for the elections next year. The presidential elections are to be held next on April 5th, and each one of the panelists stressed that they feel that Afghanistan is not ready for another election. All four stressed that there is a significant amount of work to be done in order to be prepared for the elections next year. What was most interesting was the two panelists who were from the United States but spent time in Kabul for the previous elections were both discussing the need for a strong US presence in the elections -even if the U.S will be in preparations of leaving later on the year. They both discussed the embarrassing amount of fraud that took place in the previous elections that re-elected Karzai as president and mentioned that as a new developing country these types of events are normal. That with the proper help and guidance that the elections next year could actually be fair and free and actually successful.
It was great being able to attend the event because even though my parents are from Afghanistan and I am familiar with Afghan politics, it was nice to get a closer look into the domestic politics of the country and just how much it affects the United States and its policy makings. I met a lot of very important people at the event, top experts from the US Peace Institute and USAID, and was able to catch a glimpse of networking in D.C as well.
On April 3rd, 2013 I visited the United States Institute of Peace to attend a presentation on Colombia: Land & the Agenda for Peace. There were 3 panels and each had two presenters. Dr. Cynthia Arnson from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars played the moderator for the first panel. The first 2 guest speakers were Mr. Absalon Machado and Carlos Salgado. Both are Colombian Economists. Their presentation was about the problems of land and peace agenda in Colombia and also the importance of rural areas in the land reform process. The speakers were speaking in Spanish through interpreters. Most of the discussion was about the current peace talks between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba. it is considered a road map for peace in Colombia. The panel discussed the issue of land reforms for those who are displaced, peasants, and those lands that were taken by drug traffickers and guerrillas. The panel also discussed the struggles that both sides face in order to reach an agreement. One main struggle is that there are four sides to the process, Colombian government, FARC, peasants, and organizations. Before any of these talks to be discussed, the panel said that the Colombian government must have a proper zoning maps to include land with resources and how it will be distributed.
On February 22, 2013 I attended the discussion on the Democratic Republic of Congo. The co-founder and the policy analyst for the Enough Project as well as representative from Amnesty International discussed the current situations in the Congo.
Collectively, they discussed the current policies that fail to have a large impact on creating stability in the Congo. It was largely aimed at assessing what else could be done to ensure the security of the people and establish a stable government. John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, discussed four points of opportunity to create peace in the region. They were aimed at ensuring conflict-free minerals with the help of international companies, sanctions on those in the region who partake in the cross-border supply of weapons to rebel militias, accountability, and reform of the United Nations peacekeeping missions. I think these four points were significant because they continue to be on the agenda to pursue peace in the Congo, but with lack of implementation they have not been successful.
Later in the discussion they addressed the policies that were already established and how well they were working. One they mainly focused on was the Dodd Frank act that is to ensure that minerals are conflict-free. Many companies are beginning to implement it, but they are still lost as to how to go about making sure they have conflict-free minerals. The panel of speakers made a point that companies need to take their own time to actually go to the Congo and go to the mines and evaluate the situations before buying the minerals. It is an extra step in the process, but it slowly cuts off the rebel militias from profiting in smuggling minerals.
At the end of the discussion, the panel was opened up to questions from the audience. Questions they answered dealt with what is going to happen to the displaced people and what political reform was needed. The political reform they suggested not only dealt with the national, but also the local communities and how they need to be more involved.
Overall it was a very good discussion on what needs to be done in the Congo. The main point out of all of it was that there needs to be more implementation. Agreements are made and policies are established but nothing is being done after that. They need stronger negotiators and more implementation plans after leaving bargaining tables.