Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is committing horrific crimes, including sex slavery, against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy a religious community of 400,000 people, according to United Nations investigators. Women who escaped have recounted their torture and rape to the public, Congress and U.N. officials. ISIS uses the popular Whatsapp instant messaging to advertise enslaved girls for sale. Secretary of State Kerry says these ISIS crimes, with others, amount to genocide. Yet U.N. investigators say the “path to accountability” through international justice systems is “blocked.” So what can the international community do to halt this impunity? The McCain Institute for International Leadership and U.S. Institute of Peace on October 5th hosted an urgent discussion on how to move from condemnation to action.

Read the event coverage, ISIS Makes Sex Slavery Key Tactic of Terrorism.

Aishan Ali Saleh, a member of the Yazidi minority, now living in a refugee camp outside Dohuk, Iraq, July 24, 2015. Residents of Kojo, her village, believed they could negotiate safe passage as Islamic State fighters took control of the area. Instead, the men were bound for death and the women and girls taken into sexual slavery — a practice encouraged by the group’s theologians.
Photo Courtesy of The New York Times/Mauricio Lima

A prominent voice against ISIS’ sex slavery has been Sierra Leone’s Zainab Hawa Bangura, a former war refugee who is now the United Nations’ chief campaigner against sexual violence in conflict. As a special representative of the U.N. secretary general, Ms. Bangura has met survivors of this ISIS campaign and heard their stories. 

Focused efforts at finding the policies and actions to provide accountability for ISIS sex slavery will be critical to informing the new leadership to be elected by the United States and the United Nations in the next three months—and to supporting survivors and preventing sexual crimes in future conflicts. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #EndTrafficking.

Speakers

Zainab Hawa Bangura 
U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

Mark Lagon
Distinguished Senior Scholar and Centennial Fellow at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown

Sarhang Hamasaeed 
Senior Program Officer for Middle East Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace

Elise LabottModerator
Global Affairs Correspondent for CNN

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