A WOMAN from Brighton, who has organised collections of clothing
and other items for Iraqis forced from their homes by Islamic State
(IS), is starting a special campaign to help victims of sexual
Samara Levy has despatched ten lorry-loads of aid to northern
Iraq, and a container to Jordan. She is now calling for people
across the UK, through their communities, to donate what she calls
"care packs" for women and girls, pregnant women, new mothers, and
other vulnerable groups.
"After the traumatic ordeals that many of them have been
through, they now face a very bleak future. We are keen to send
some of the basic things that these women will want and need, but
be unable to buy, to restore some dignity."
Ms Levy, who is working in partnership with the Phoenix Resource
Centre, has drawn up a list of products to include in the packs,
all of which she asks should be new. They include soap, toothpaste,
face flannels, towels, underwear, and sanitary items.
Arranging the collection of aid for Iraq has not always been
easy. When Ms Levy ordered her first 90-cubic-meter container
lorry, she realised that she had barely two cubic meters of
donations. "My first thought was: 'What am I going to tell my
vicar? I've let him down.'
"So I prayed, and thanks to God's help we managed to fill the
lorry, and have some goods left over."
Ms Levy says that the fate of women in the Iraq conflict is
often overlooked. She cites the women's director at Human Rights
Watch, Liesl Gerntholtz, who said in a recently published report
that IS forces "have committed organised rape, sexual assault, and
other horrific crimes against Yazidi women and girls. Those
fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the
unimaginable trauma they endured."
The report also stated that, out of the 20 women and girls they
interviewed who had escaped IS, half, including two 12-year-old
girls, said that they had been raped - some many times, and by
several IS soldiers. Nearly all said that they had been forced into
marriage, sold, or given as "gifts".
A UN Security Council report last month said that IS had
established a pattern of sexual violence, slavery, abduction, and
human trafficking. Trauma-counselling and reintegration support
were inadequate, it said: the culture of the region makes it
virtually impossible for women to speak out about sexual
For more details, visit www.samarasaidappeal.org or
telephone 07960 937 716