Vian Dakhil, an Iraqi parliamentarian and one of only two Yazidi MPs, receives a standing ovation as she accepts the prestigious Geneva Summit International Women’s Rights Award at the 8th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.

On the horrors visited on women by ISIS:

“The violence and persecution could be seen clearly in what happened in Iraq and Syria, the result of the brutal acts by the terrorists of ISIS, torturing women and killing them, torturing and killing their parents in front of their eyes and kidnapping their children, to the ugliest crime in modern history, kidnapping Yazidi women, raping them, and offering them for sale in the markets of Mosul and Raqqa. Young children were sold in front of the world and the international community.”

On the universality of this issue as an issue of women’s rights

“Today, we must all unite to fight the oppression of women.”

“I am here to speak today for every oppressed woman everywhere in the world, in Zimbabwe, in Cambodia, in France or America. There is no difference as long as they are exposed to violence and persecution.”

On the significance of receiving this award

“Finally, I would like to thank you very much for your confidence in me. By giving me this award, a great honor, a big responsibility, you have given me the opportunity to raise the voice of all the oppressed women in every part of the world. This is an award for every oppressed woman. The civilized world will not forget or ignore your suffering.”

Full Remarks:

They say “women are the mirror of society, no they are the entire society”. They also say “behind every great man, is a woman”. In the present era, this is how intellectuals express the importance of women in society, and there is no doubt that a woman is half of society, while giving birth to the other half. She is a mother, a sister, a wife and a daughter, and her work is not just limited to supporting a man. There are examples of great women, who lead nations and large countries, who lead revolutions and wars against colonialists and invaders, who develop science, arts and literature.

With the twentieth century began a start towards legalizing woman’s rights; in 1912, at the Hague, there was the adoption of the conventions on conflict of national laws relating to marriage, divorce and separation; in 1914, the International Labor Organization issued the Maternity Protection Convention. It all aimed to support working women and underground work for women.

After the end of the second world war, the international interest in women’s issues got greater. The Charter of the United Nations in 1945 promoted respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone, without distinction due to race or sex, language or religion, woman or man. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a huge step towards the protection of woman’s rights and family care. In 1952 the UN Commission for the Status of Women, prepared the women’s political rights treaty, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

In 1967, the United Nations passed a special Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. In 1968 the Tehran Declaration of support for women was released. There were lots of other conventions and treaties and despite these conventions and treaties throughout history – we should not forget that despite all these treaties throughout history there is still persecution of women and people in general. The statistics of violence against women are terrifying.

There are large differences between countries. The violence and persecution could be seen clearly in what happened in Iraq and Syria, the result of the brutal acts by the terrorists of ISIS, torturing women and killing them, torturing and killing their parents in front of their eyes and kidnapping their children, to the ugliest crime in modern history, kidnapping Yazidi women, raping them, and offering them for sale in the markets of Mosul and Raqqa. Young children were sold in front of the world and the international community.

In the absence of the free world and in blatant defiance of all human values, in front of the eyes and ears of the world, this terrorist organization has been selling women like brands. Unfortunately, despite all our efforts to deliver their voice to international bodies, there are still more than 3,600 girls and Yazidi women who are still kidnapped by ISIS, living tortured lives. There are hundreds or even thousands of women from different religions, living under very critical conditions in the camps, sometimes without even a roof.

I am here to ask the international community to help more than three million Yazidi women and children. But I want to say what happened to us is no less horrible than what happened to the women in Burma and the victims of Boko Haram in Nairobi and in every corner of the world where women are subjected to the worst kind of oppression and persecution.

Today, we must all unite to fight the oppression of women. I’m here to not only speak on behalf of Yazidi or Iraqi women, whom I witness with my own eyes, being victims to violence and the thousands of widows and orphans, and thousands more who are being beaten, kidnapped, and sold, thousands who were taken out of their schools.

I am here to speak today for every oppressed woman everywhere in the world, in Zimbabwe, in Cambodia, in France or America. There is no difference as long as they are exposed to violence and persecution. We have to start helping women at home with education and go further, to areas of armed conflicts, and not limit ourselves to the enactment of laws and treaties.

We need to help these women and get them out of their difficulty. Prevent trafficking, by supporting them and giving them a normal life

Finally, I would like to thank you very much for your confidence in me. By giving me this award, a great honor, a big responsibility, you have given me the opportunity to raise the voice of all the oppressed women in every part of the world. This is an award for every oppressed woman. The civilized world will not forget or ignore your suffering.

I would also like to mention that I dedicate this award to kidnapped Yazidi women, who are being tortured brutally by ISIS. I tell them: we will save you. I dedicate this award to the Iraqi women struggling for their families in the camps. I dedicate it to all the young Yazidis, who could escape the slavery camps of Daesh.

8th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, UN Opening, February 23, 2016

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