Mr RUDDOCK (Berowra) (14:14): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on Australia's commitment to international efforts to end violence against women and girls?
Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:14): I thank the member for Berowra for his question, and I acknowledge his leadership on the parliamentary inquiry into human rights issues confronting women and girls in our region.
The Australian government's message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is clear: violence against women and girls anywhere, anytime, in whatever form it takes, is utterly unacceptable. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services have spoken of the government's role and response in Australia. For women and girls beyond our border, their circumstances can be dire—victims of forced marriage, acid burnings, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, sexual violence and other abuses.
Some of the most horrific violence against women is being perpetrated by the terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, where sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war and a source of revenue. In fact, Daesh, or ISIL, encourages the subjugation of women and girls. They can be bought and sold at slave auctions. ISIL has written a lengthy manual on slavery—apparently by the group's self-titled 'Islamic State research and fatwa department'—which promotes appalling views, including that sexual assault is spiritually beneficial. We must combat this terrorist group and its pernicious and malevolent ideology, including because of its appalling views and treatment of women and girls.
Addressing sexual and gender based violence is a key component of the Australian government's humanitarian support in response to the crisis in Syria and Iraq. In the past 12 months, the Australian government has provided funding for survivors of gender violence, supporting access to shelter and support services, training for healthcare staff and medical assistance. Today I announce that the Australian government is providing additional support to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Through this fund, we have already, for example, assisted in the development of an acid attack law in Cambodia and supported organisations in Papua New Guinea to introduce local laws to eliminate violent practices, including the torture of women accused of sorcery.
Living free of violence and from the fear of violence is a human right. For women and girls across the world, it is often a matter of life and death. This government will continue to provide strong leadership on this issue in Australia, our region and globally—because violence against women and girls is unacceptable wherever it occurs.
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