‘Eliminate violence against women’ say Koenders and Ebadi

On Tuesday, foreign minister Bert Koenders met Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. The meeting coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Mr Koenders and Ms Ebadi voiced their concerns on the rising violence against women and girls in the Middle East. ‘Women’s rights are being increasingly abused. This is a global problem,’ said the minister. He commented in the meeting on reports of violence against women in Syria and Iraq. ‘ISIS is selling, abusing, assaulting and murdering women in the most barbaric fashion,’ he said later. ‘But we mustn’t forget that violence against women occurs all over the world.’

The minister also spoke with Ms Ebadi about the extension of nuclear talks with Iran yesterday and the importance of continuing negotiations on this complex issue. They also discussed the human rights situation in Iran. ‘The situation in Iran still gives cause for concern,’ noted Mr Koenders. ‘NGOs and human rights defenders like Shirin Ebadi are an inspiration to us all, and play a crucial role in the fight against human rights abuses.’ Ms Ebadi currently lives in exile in the UK, meaning she must follow the situation in Iran from a distance.

Working to create a safe and equal environment for women and girls across the globe is a central theme of the Netherlands’ human rights policy. If their position is to change, women must play a greater role in political affairs, including peace processes. That is why the Netherlands is organising a conference on the issue in the Hague for spring 2015.