A young woman, some 26 years old watched as her name was drawn out of a hat. Then a man she had never met told her to go into the bathroom and clean herself. But she knew better. As a Yazidi woman who was captured by the Islamic state, she knew that bath was often prelude to rape. She swallowed some kind of a poison and hoped to die. The forces of the Islamic State have committed heinous crimes like organized rapes, sexual assaults against Yazidi women and girls. Those fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the unimaginable trauma they endured.

Yazidis are largely Kurdish speaking people who practice a unique faith. Globally, the total population of the Yazidis is about 700,000, but a vast majority of the community nearly 500,000 people live concentrated in Iraq’s north. There have been several reports which have documented the sufferings of the Yazidi women who were captured by the Islamic State during one of their sweeps through northern Iraq. A study published by the Amnesty International stated that female prisoners captured by the Islamic State were subjected to rampant torture, rape and suicide.

When the Islamic State swept through the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, it killed thousands of Yazidi men and captured nearly thousand Yazidi women and girls. The women were offered a bleak choice, either to convert to Islam and be married, or face imprisonment and potential death. According to the survivors, both the options lead to rape and brutality so some women deliberately chose to die.

In an interview a survivor was quoted as saying “I went into the bathroom, turned on the water, stood on a chair to take the wire connecting the light to electrocute myself but there was no electricity. After they realized what I was doing, they beat me with a long piece of wood. They handcuffed me to the sink, cut my clothes with a knife and washed me. They took me to the bathroom, brought in my friend and raped her in front my eyes.”

Human rights watch says it interviewed 20 survivors who managed to escape from the clutches of the Islamic State. Out of the 20 survivors interviewed, 10 aid they had been raped by the Islamic State soldiers some multiple times. Two of the alleged victims were only 12 years old.

Men come and select women. It can be considered as a flesh market setup. Men come and tell women and girls to stand, and then their bodies are examined. The men wear ankle length garments and have long hair and flowing beards. Girls are captivated and beaten into submission. A girl claimed to have been raped by a man 3 times in a single day. The Islamic state makes no secret about its enslavement of Yazidi women. In October last year, the group boasted about the practice in its English language magazine Dabiq.

After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations. A lot of Yazidi women managed to escape and recounted their horror stories to the various human rights organizations. But many of their fellow Yazidi women weren’t so lucky. They remain enslaved by the soldiers of the Islamic State.

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