ISIS sex slavery pushes victims to suicide

2014-12-23 20:02

(File) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Baghdad - Women and girls from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority have told rights activists they were beaten and forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State jihadist group, driving some to suicide.

ISIS militants have overrun swathes of Iraq since June, declared a cross-border caliphate also encompassing parts of neighbouring Syria and carried out a litany of abuses in both countries.

The group has targeted Yazidis and other minorities in northern Iraq in a campaign that rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday amounted to ethnic cleansing, murdering civilians and enslaving others for a fate that some captives consider worse than death.

It said hundreds and possibly thousands of Yazidi women and girls had been forced to marry, sold or given to ISIS fighters or supporters.

"Many of those held as sexual slaves are children - girls aged 14, 15 or even younger," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser, who interviewed dozens of former captives.

A 19-year-old named Jilan committed suicide out of fear she would be raped, according to the Amnesty report entitled "Escape from Hell: Torture and Sexual Slavery in Islamic State Captivity in Iraq".

"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," said a girl who was held with her but later escaped.

"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."

Another former captive told the rights group that she and her sister tried to kill themselves to escape forced marriage, but were stopped from doing so.

"The man who was holding us said that either we marry him and his brother or he would sell us," said Wafa, 27.

"At night we tried to strangle ourselves with our scarves. We tied the scarves around our necks and pulled away from each other as hard as we could, until I fainted," she said, but two other captives stopped them.

Sixteen-year-old Randa was abducted with her family, then beaten and raped by a man twice her age. Her male relatives were killed.

The man "took me as his wife by force. I told him I did not want to and tried to resist but he beat me. My nose was bleeding, I could not do anything to stop him," Randa said.

"It is so painful what they did to me and to my family," she said.

ISIS boasts of abuse

Amnesty said that many of the perpetrators were ISIS fighters, but might also include supporters of the group.

Some of the escaped victims said they were kept in family homes with wives, children, parents and siblings of the rapists.

ISIS has boasted in its propaganda magazine "Dabiq" of the horrors it has inflicted.

In an article entitled "The revival of slavery before the hour", Dabiq argues that by enslaving people it claims hold deviant religious beliefs, ISIS has restored an aspect of Islamic sharia law.

"After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations," the article said, referring to the area where the Yazidis were seized.

The abductions and rapes have drawn widespread international condemnation.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has denounced the enslavement of women and girls by ISIS as "abhorrent".

The abuse causes long-term damage even to those who manage to escape.

"The physical and psychological toll of the horrifying sexual violence these women have endured is catastrophic," Rovera said.

"Many of them have been tortured and treated as chattel. Even those who have managed to escape remain deeply traumatised."

One man said that he fears his wife, who escaped captivity, may commit suicide, and makes sure someone is with her at all times.

"My wife has panic attacks and can't sleep. I can't leave her alone because I'm afraid for her safety," he said.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq  |  syria

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.