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Amnesty International: ISIS Driving Yazidi Women to Suicide Through Rape, Sex Slavery

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Amnesty International released a new report this week– Escape from Hell – Torture, Sexual Slavery in Islamic State Captivity in Iraq– that details the gruesome abuse Yazidi women endured at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in northern Iraq. Militants raped, sold, and forced the females to convert to Islam upon their capture in the region.

“Hundreds of Yezidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in IS captivity,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor. “Many of those held as sexual slaves are children – girls aged 14, 15 or even younger. IS fighters are using rape as a weapon in attacks amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Militants did not spare married or pregnant women, such as 19-year-old Abla, “who was pregnant with her second child when she was abducted last August.”

I had my little boy with me and my pregnancy was very visible already but one of the guards chose me to be his wife. He said if I did not consent to marrying him he would sell me on to another man who would take me to Syria. I let him believe that I would marry him and managed to run away before he could carry out his threats.

Terrorists abducted Arwar, 15, near Mount Sinjar in August. They also captured her relatives, but separated everyone as they made their way across Syria and Iraq. Arwar is one victim who spoke to Amnesty International:

In Rambussi we were held in a house with five other girls. There they did to me what they did to many other girls. I was raped. My cousin was not molested; they wanted to take her to marry a man but in the end they left her with us and then we managed to escape. One of the girls said she was not raped but I don’t know if it is true; I hope it is true. Another did not talk about what happened to her. The others were raped. The men were all Iraqis. They said that if we killed ourselves they would kill our relatives.

Unfortunately, many females chose suicide as the way to escape the horror. Luna, 20, told Amnesty International she knew one girl who died:

We were 21 girls in one room, two of them were very young, 10-12 years. One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes. Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful. I think she knew she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself.

Victims told Amnesty International the majority of the “buyers” were men from Iraq and Syria, but there were some from other countries such as Australia. Other buyers were not Islamic State fighters, but only supporters of the terrorists. A Mosul resident said the men “are local businessmen, not fighters.” These men registered their marriages to Yazidi women in a Sharia court. Fawziya, 18, was held with her captor and his entire family.

In the first 10 days we were not molested, the men brought us food and left us alone. Then we were told each of us must choose a husband or else men will choose us. At that time we were kept together, many of us, more than 100. Then we were split in groups, six girls per group, and each group was taken to a different house in Rambussi (near Mount Sinjar). I the house where I was held each girl was with a man from Da’esh; these men were aged between 30-40 years; we were aged between 15 and 20. The man who took me as his wife was about 30 and was from Mosul. He used me as his wife for four days in that house and then he took me to Mosul to his family home. His family did not agree with what Da’esh did to the Yezidi girls but did not do anything to stop it. I was put in a room with his wife, she was also from Mosul, was young and very nice to me. She has two young children, a boy and a girl, with him. His parents did not interfere, but they said if I did not convert to Islam he should give me away or sell me, and get a Muslim wife instead. He took me and his wife and children to Rambussi and said he was going to give me back to the emir (chief). There were other girls in houses nearby and I eventually managed to escape with some other girls.

One 13-year-old girl and her young sister fell into the hands of a man who actually helped them escape.

He took me to his home and I slept in a room with his older wife while he slept in another room with his younger wife. The older wife was very nice to me. He said he had bought me because he felt sorry for me and wanted to send me and my little sister back to my family and indeed he did so.

Proof of the Islamic State’s abuse of Yazidi females leaked out after the militants captured villages in Iraq. In November, a video showed militants laughing and joking while purchasing female Yazidi slaves. A Yazidi slave phoned a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter to beg them and the west to bomb the brothel she lived in. A 14-year-old girl, known as “Narin,” told journalist Mohammed A. Salih she and her friend were given to two Islamic State soldiers as wives or concubines in Fallujah. The two girls managed to escape when their “husbands” left for business. A 17-year-old girl said several different men raped her numerous times. The women often begged the men to kill them.


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