Highlighting the fate of Iraq’s Yazidi women who are raped and slain by Islamic State group jihadists, a French minister called on the United Nations to incorporate ‘femicide’ in international law.
Young women of the Yazidi minority are often taken by IS fighters as sex slaves, then killed.
“It is because they are women and they are Yazidis that they are sold and murdered” by the IS fighters, said Laurence Rossignol, France’s minister for family, children and women’s rights, speaking Wednesday at the 60th annual Commission on the Status of Women.
“What they are experiencing is femicide,” she emphasized.
While genocide — the killing of a large group of people of a nationality or ethnic group — is part of the international legal vocabulary, femicide — the deliberate and violent killing of women — is not, Rossignol said.
The international military coalition fighting in Iraq and Syria “should say that it is not only at war against the terrorism of the Islamic State group, but it is also there to free the Yazidi women of the femicide that the suffer,” Rossignol said.
Rossignol wants to see the term femicide, which is already in use by women’s rights groups, become “the basis for prosecution in international courts,” and eventually taken up by the International Criminal Court, Rossignol told AFP.
The Hague-based ICC is empowered to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
In March 2015, a UN report said that attacks in Iraq by the IS group against the Yazidi minority “could constitute genocide.”
The femicide concept could also be applied to the kidnapping of young women by the Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria, Rossignol added.
The French minister also urged the UN commission to fully decriminalize abortion around the world, and allow broader access to contraception, especially due to an increased use of rape as a method of warfare.