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The Limits of Equality and Gender Discourses in Counter-Terrorism: The Case of Women and Children in Syria and Iraq

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin | Published on March 31, 2021

Project: Gender and Conflict Transformation

Recent years have felt like an exercise in constant whiplash as lawyers and scholars valiantly seek to assess and comprehend the events taking place on the ground in Turkey, the Northern Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq. There is much that can be said about all of it, but these remarks are focused on the position for women and children in the Northern Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq being held (for now) in detention camps controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (“SDF”) or being held in Iraqi prisons pending trial for a variety of offences premised on or related to Islamic State (“IS”) proximity.

The conditions in such camps are deeply distressing and reach the threshold of “torture, inhuman and degrading” treatment under international law. There is limited access to food and water, shelter is precarious and inadequate, conditions for children are poor leading to illness and premature death, medical provision…