The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's Enslavement and Sexual Abuse of Yazidi Women

by Emooly (Henry M. Gunn High School) on 2016-02-22 13:54:40 PDT
The Islamic State has targeted the Yezidi population of approximately 230,000 individuals due to the fact that they consider them "kafir" or "nonbelievers" because they do not practice Islam -- a lifestyle widely believed to be a genocide. Over 5,200 Yazidis were forced out of their own homes and kidnapped in 2014, with 3,400 remaining in ISIS captivity to this day. A disturbingly high proportion of these abductees are women. Additionally, ISIS has recently revived the institutional practice of slavery within its self-proclaimed caliphate, and actively encourages the systematic rape and sexual enslavement of non-Muslim women. They justify their actions through their belief that if a non-Muslim woman is raped by 10 Muslim men, she will become converted. These women are purchased, sold, and traded among ISIS fighters as "commodities" or "rewards".
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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has released a fatwa on female sex slaves in an attempt to justify their abduction, enslavement, and rape of thousands of Yazidi women. The fatwa was a document that contained 15 rulings, going into explicit detail about the sex slavery system. One of such injunctions even stated that 'The owner of a female captive should show compassion towards her, be kind to her, not humiliate her and not assign her work she is unable to perform'.
However, Nadia's recount of her experiences as a sex slave of ISIS starkly contrast with the "compassion" mentioned in the fatwa. For example, when one ISIS fighter was asked about whether or not she was his wife, he said, "This is not my wife, she is my sabia, she is my slave." She spoke at the United Nations Security Council in New York City to request a rescue team for enslaved Yazidi women and liberate their land from the militants. "They gave us to them," Nadia said. She was currently remembering a moment in which women would mess up their hair and smear battery acid on their faces in order to look less appealing to the soldiers. "It did not help because in the mornings they would ask us again to wash our face and look pretty."
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Nadia's niece was also abducted and tortured by ISIS. She recalled the details of being kept in a building in Mosul, with heavy evidence of physical abuse and suffering. "There were blood and there were fingerprints of hands with the blood on the walls," she recounted. "Two women had killed themselves there."
"I did not want to kill myself -- but I wanted them to kill me," Nadia said.
Every morning in Mosul, the women were mandated to wash themselves and "look presentable" for the soldiers. They would have their photographs taken and printed with the contact information of the soldier that owned them so they could trade women among themselves. She described her owner as tall and thin with an "ugly mouth" and "teeth coming out of his lips."
"Then he one day forced me to dress for him and put make-up, I did, and in that black night, he did it," she claimed. "That night, he beat me up, forced me to undress, and put me in a room with six militants. They continued to commit crimes to my body until I became unconscious."
Nadia was finally able to escape from her enslavement in November 2014 when her captor left his house unlocked. She was transported to a refugee camp and is now living in Stuttgart, Germany. "I left everyone, all the family members who are still in the camps, I left them," she testified. "But it's better than the poverty and suffering that the people endure in the camps."
Nadia's story of survival and resilience also reveal the brutality behind the Islamic state's inhumane practice of institutionalized sex slavery.

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