Member for Newcastle speaks to Parliament about sexual violence in Syria and Iraq

Ms Sharon Claydon MP eloquently spoke in support of a motion calling on the government to investigate and prosecute sexual violence perpetrated as war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria and Iraq. Ms Claydon is the Federal Member for Newcastle and is the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Social Policy and Legal Affairs Standing Committee and sits on the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. She is also the chair of the Labor Status of Women Caucus Committee. She is a strong advocate for social justice and gender equality.

She used her speech to describe the sexual and gender based violence perpetrated by Islamic State as abhorrent, noting that the motion was “calling out what this behavior is: it is a war crime and it is a crime against humanity. I don’t think we should be going soft around the edges describing this crime.” Ms Claydon said the motion “brings to light an issue that this parliament… really does have to take seriously and recommit ourselves to taking action.”  She reiterated that “for too long” sexual violence has “been considered a bi-product of war.” “Unfortunately these gendered crimes are too often perpetrated outside the jurisdiction of institutions willing and able to bring the perpetrators to justice, leaving victims without justice and terrible crimes unanswered. This is precisely what is taking place in both Syria and Iraq now. There is no doubt that sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war by Islamic State. Over recent years there have been countless stories by women and girls, and to an extent men and boys, subject to sexual violence” In closing, Ms Claydon reaffirmed, “we cannot let these crimes go unaddressed. It is really time for this parliament to step up to the mark, apply maximum pressure, wherever we can to ensure these crimes are indeed prosecuted.”

Watch and listen to her complete speech below.

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