Today is the fourth anniversary of Da’esh’s genocide of the Yazidis in northern Iraq. Yazidis who now call Australia home commemorated the day gathered in Wagga Wagga, Tawoomba and Coffs Harbour to commemorate. Survivors need justice for what they’ve suffered, they need to tell their stories and have their perpetrators prosecuted.
This time last year, Susan Hutchinson spent a day at parliament house in Canberra making a sculpture of a weeping peacock to mark the event and call for justice. The parliament of Australia has now recognised the Yazidi genocide and called on the government to investigate and prosecute perpetrators.
Earlier in the week the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Women released a joint statement on women, peace and security, expressing their commitment “to working together to end impunity for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence.”
But so far all we have seen are empty promises.
Last month, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reported that the Australian government needed to “establish a federal compensation scheme for survivors of trafficking that grants appropriate reparations.”
The women who suffered egregious abuse at the hands of Khaled Sharrouf, the former Australian who travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with Da’esh deserve reparations for what they experienced.
Women who survived the genocide are showing incredible resilience. Nikki Marczak recently shared the story of Khalida who survived sexual servitude at the hands of Da’esh and now calls Australia home. Khalida said, “all the survivors have a book inside their hearts” a book they need to read to the world.
Governments in countries like Australia need to step up to the mark, to fulfill the promise of the Rome Statute, to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of conflict related sexual violence and genocide. The world has had enough empty promises of ‘never again.’
The time is now.
Women need justice and we need to give it to them.