Yazidi women re­count sex slav­ery trauma

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

The Yazidi re­li­gious mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity in Iraq says 3,500 of its women and girls are still be­ing held by the so-called Is­lamic State (IS), many be­ing used as sex slaves. A few have man­aged to es­cape and here tell their har­row­ing sto­ries.

Women of Iraq’s Yazidi com­mu­nity, a fre­quent tar­get of Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists re­vealed their trau­matic en­counter with IS mil­i­tants dur­ing and after the siege of Mount Sin­jar in Au­gust.

“There were 20 of them, with long beards and weapons. They said: ‘You’re com­ing to Mo­sul.’ We re­fused. Then they hit us and dragged us to their cars,” an 18-year old woman iden­ti­fy­ing her­self as ‘Han­nan’ told the BBC.

“Some of us tried to com­mit sui­cide, so they took away any­thing we might use to kill our­selves.”

Yazidi women have of­ten been kid­napped and used as sex slaves for IS mil­i­tants after be­ing forced to con­vert to Is­lam. One video re­leased in Novem­ber shows IS men hag­gling in an ap­par­ent "slave mar­ket" over Yazidi girls. One woman, Khama, con­firmed the ex­is­tence of such a mar­ket.

“They put us up for sale. Many groups of fight­ers came to buy. What­ever we did, cry­ing, beg­ging made no dif­fer­ence,” Khama said. “An Is­lamic State sheikh took the money. It wasn’t much, 12 U.S. dol­lars and said 'this is your price.’”

“There was one 11-yearold girl. They beat her a lot. They gave her to one fighter and then to another one from Mo­sul,” Ja­nar said. “We heard that she killed her­self later in Mo­sul.”

The fig­ure of 3,500 women and girls still in cap­tiv­ity is not a rough es­ti­mate. A Yazidi com­mit­tee has names of all the miss­ing. Of those who have re­turned, some are preg­nant.

The Yazidis are deeply con­ser­va­tive. They have faced geno­cide. Even after the cred­i­ble re­ports of mass killings and forced con­ver­sions, what hap­pened to the women re­mains per­haps the most trau­matic event.

So far, a to­tal of some 400 women and girls have man­aged to es­cape. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a woman still turns up at one of the camps in north­ern Iraq, ter­ri­fied and ex­hausted, a vic­tim of slav­ery in the 21st cen­tury.

Peo­ple in the camps seem stunned, shocked. They wait for those left be­hind, know­ing there is lit­tle chance they will be res­cued.

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