Victims Voices, Silencing Terrorism: Rasha Karim

*Disclaimer: This story contains graphic references due to the telling of victims’ experiences. Readers’ discretion is advised. 

<div style="text-align:justify">Rasha creating clay sculptures as part of a psychosocial activity which entails the use of art as part of a rehabilitation process within the UNODC programme.</div>
Rasha creating clay sculptures as part of a psychosocial activity which entails the use of art as part of a rehabilitation process within the UNODC programme.
“I am a victim of ISIS terrorism. ISIS took away my brother and father from me” says Rasha Karim, a 39-year-old lawyer from Iraq. She grew up in a loving family with her brother who worked as an officer. As her brother was on mission working on dismantling explosive devices planted by ISIS in residential areas, a grenade detonated and led to his passing. ISIS refused to give Rasha’s family burial rights by handing over his body. This was a fact her father did not accept.
“After my brother's death, my father went to the same place where my brother was martyred to look for his body to bury him. Almost twenty days after his death, ISIS placed an explosive device targeting my father in the same place where my brother died; thus, he was martyred as well,” Rasha told UNODC.
After the passing of her father, Rasha was overwhelmed by grief and found it difficult to start over and integrate into society. Rasha is one of many survivors of terrorism who took part in the UNODC psychosocial support programme within the project “Supporting victims of terrorism within the criminal justice framework, including psychological support” in Iraq, which was implemented in partnership with the Lebanese Association for Victims of Terrorism (AVT-L) and funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “I joined the UNODC psychosocial support programme, and I benefited a lot, and I was able to express and talk about my condition. This support helped me connect with the community and my family, especially my son.” 
When asked what her outlook for the future is, Rasha said that as “the psychological support sessions were a big help to me, I wish that the programme would reach out to more people and include mothers who have lost a child and are in need of this kind of support...” she also added “I hope that procedures are made more accessible and efficient for victims of ISIS terrorism so that they can receive the justice and compensation they deserve in a timely manner.”
This story, which is one in a five-part series, marks the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, which takes place on 21 August. The series, originally featured as part of the UNODC “Victims’ Voices, Silencing Terrorism” campaign, was conducted in June 2023 through a combination of social media outreach and on-the-ground presence in Baghdad, Iraq. The campaign reached 23 million people in Iraq and the Middle East and North Africa region and was conducted in collaboration with Iraqi authorities, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Association of Victims of Terrorism in Lebanon (AVT-L) and funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The campaign focused on providing an alternative narrative to that of terrorist groups by raising awareness of the resilience of victims of terrorism and the importance of having their voices heard. The messages and stories they tell have the power to silence the negative and harmful fear-oriented messages spread by terrorist groups. The campaign featured several victims of terrorism, supported by the project, as they used their voices to tell their own stories of resilience and overcoming, and spoke of how more victims should be encouraged to do the same. The campaign also highlighted the importance of understanding who is a victim of terrorism, what are victims’ needs, the role of the community, and the achievements of the project.
Click on the following links to watch videos of the campaign:
Part 1 – “We asked victims of terrorism in Iraq to tell us their story, this is what they said”
Part 2 – “Their journey of hope, victims of terrorism in Iraq”
Part 3 – “Impact driven –supporting victims of terrorism project in Iraq”
Full Documentary – “Victims' Voices, Silencing Terrorism" Campaign