Where Airstrikes Fall Short, the West Can Still Act to End Violence Against Women
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) atrocities against women have provoked worldwide outrage, generating increased support for U.S. action in the region and hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since August. Yet for all this indignation, similar abuses against women, including child marriages, legalized marital rape, and domestic abuse, occur in countries across the Middle East, often without legal consequences.
With or without ISIS, defense of women’s rights in the region has long been weak.
To begin, the United States should develop contacts and regularly communicate with women’s advocates when developing their military policies in places like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. When the United States sends military and political advisors to conflict zones, for example Iraq and Afghanistan, it should also include those trained in women’s issues and sexual violence, according to Michelle Barsa of the Institute for Inclusive Security. Though the U.S. military does not currently deploy gender advisors, such positions do exist in other militaries, for example, Sweden’s.
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