Yazda Women’s Center
In August 2014, the Islamic State abducted thousands of Yazidi women and girls, who were subjected to rape, violence, forced conversions to Islam, and married to ISIS militants. These atrocious acts were part of an attempt of the Islamic State to eliminate Yazidi culture. Many women have now been released or escaped while others remain in the hands of ISIS/ISIL. These survivors of captivity and enslavement require a significant amount of psychological support and care.
Since early 2015, Yazda has run a case management program to assist survivors. A Women’s Center has been established that runs weekly support groups, baking classes, handicraft classes, gives one-on-one psychological support, and provides material aid. A case manager is assigned to each woman, who tracks her progress and monitors needs. To date, Yazda has assisted over 1050 survivors of enslavement and captivity.Yazda also maintains one of the largest databases of women held by ISIS/ISIL. Through this database, women are tracked and provided services by both Yazda and government authorities.
Video: How Yazda is supporting ISIS survivours? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UO04y9Ac3I
This case management platform achieves five key objectives for Yazda:
1. Provides urgent humanitarian aid to victims upon rescue, including but not limited to food, clothing, and medical needs
2. Improves rescue services by compiling data on key locations, victim demographics, and networks of victim enslavement in Iraq in efforts to more effectively assist the Iraqi government
3. Identifies areas for improvement regarding Yazda’s rehabilitative program that will lead to making data driven decisions
4. Builds capacity and infrastructure within the organization by streamlining the process to report required data/outcomes to third party funders, and allows for data to be utilized in showing the efficacy of the programming to increase our funding sources
5. Enhances coordinated care for victims post rescue by creating a readily accessible database system that integrates all personal client data, including intake information, case notes, location, legal documents, medical records, appointments, and incident reports.
As mentioned above, the case management platform achieves five key objectives for Yazda:
First, with the implementation of the case management platform, Yazda has been able to provide urgent humanitarian aid to victims upon rescue, including but not limited to food, clothing, and medical needs.
Secondly, through the platform Yazda has been able to compile information gathered during interviews, including the key demographics of victims (age, nationality, fluency in English, etc.) and identify gaps in service needs based on data. Furthermore, Yazda also strives to collect data on the locations where victims were held. Through this information, Yazda hopes to better understand the physical and emotional needs of each victim it serves, as well as target locations and provide coordinated and detailed intel to the Iraqi government to increase rescue efforts.
Thirdly, itemizing services is more manageable on this platform, i.e. the number of services provided for psychological support in a given period of time. This information will drive critical decisions at Yazda, which will improve the quality of treatment for the program as a whole.
Fourthly, through managing data electronically, Yazda is able to quickly calculate key statistics, such as the number of meals served to victims, the number of victims in the base camps, and the number of referrals for support services, that is required by third party funders. This allows us to assess and report the efficacy of the programming to additional funders to expand and build capacity/infrastructure. For example, Yazda utilizes this comprehensive database to work with the Iraqi government to issue monthly stipends for survivors. Approximately 700 applications have been submitted, 250 of which were authorized and the remainder of which are in progress. Yazda has also leveraged this database in working with the Red Cross to provide one-time financial support of 300,000 Iraqi Dinars to 500 survivors.
Fifthly, by creating a readily accessible database system that integrates all of the survivors’ personal data, this platform enables survivors to receive specialized care. For instance, how one victim handles emotional counseling will differ from another victim. Similarly, although a victim is able to successfully integrate in one aspect, she may still struggle in another area. Since each victim copes with trauma differently, each victim undergoes rehabilitation differently. Integrating the intake information, case notes, medical records, appointments, and incident reports of survivors on to a single database is crucial to understanding this dynamic. As such, with the case management platform, Yazda is able to tailor its services to the unique needs and circumstances of survivors because all information is centralized and accessible.
June 2015 – ongoing.
WOMEN’S PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT
NEEDS AND GOALS: Yazda opened the Women’s Centre to support the vast number of women who suffered imprisonment, abuse, and physical and psychological trauma who find themselves unable to cope, isolated, and without means for a dignified life. Following the 2014 assault on Yazidi villages in Sinjar, many found shelter in refugee/IDP camps around Dohuk while many others, after falling captive, have gradually escaped and reached Dohuk in desperate conditions.
240,000: POPULATION IN REFUGEE / IDP CAMPS AROUND DOHUK
116,000: WOMEN POPULATION IN CAMPS ARONUD DOHUK
100,000: YAZIDI WOMEN IN CAMPS ARONUD DOHUK
PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION: The opening of the Women’s Centre in June 2015 attracted vast numbers of women from the IDP camps. As survivors
found freedom and reached Dohuk, they came to know about Yazda’s activities and began to join. Yazda, through its Women’s Centre, offers a
range of activities aimed at the psychological support of victims and vulnerable women and their children, as well as activities to recreate
community bonds and promote support groups.
Pilgrimages to the sacred site of Lalish are included as a journey of reintegration in the community. Here religious and spiritual leaders, offering their welcome to the victims, assist with the process of healing from guilt and shame.Material aid is also provided through the distribution of of blankets, clothes, food, and livelihood (goats, chicken, sewing machines..) to survivors that reach Yazda.
Yazda staff engaged in this project include 1 project manager, 4 case managers, and drivers with minivan and cars.
THE ACTIVITIES IN 2016 REACHED A TOTAL OF 1500 WOMEN:
1. COUNSELLING and one-to-one psychological support is offered to approximately 20 women/month over several sessions according to need. Referral to specialized services when necessary.
2. SUPPORT GROUPS to address psychologically challenging issues: groups of 35 women meet in cycles of 8 weekly sessions.
3. HANDICRAFTS as a therapeutic and social space, and baking classes as part of the socialising and empowering process. Groups of 35 women meet in cycles of 8 weekly sessions for these activities. Children are welcome at Yazda’s Children Program.
4. PILGRIMAGES to Lalish for women and children twice weekly for approx 12 people.
5. SELF RELIANCE PROGRAM: Distribution of livelihood items to 16 families with average size of 12 people each.
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