Women from the Yazidi faith who have been taken hostage by the Islamic State are killing themselves in captivity rather than be forced into marrying the militia members, Amnesty International said Tuesday in a new report. Thousands of Yazidi men, women and children were captured by the extremist Sunni group when it swept through northern Iraq in June.
Many of the men were reportedly killed or forced to convert to Islam. The women were often given to fighters as trophies or sold off as sex slaves, Amnesty said in the report Escape from Hell. Some 300 women and children have managed to escape the Islamic State camps and about 40 gave interviews to Amnesty for the report.
Jilan was 19 when she was captured by the jihadists this year. Her family later learned she killed herself.
“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,” 20-year-old Luna was quoted as saying.
“Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful. I think she knew that she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself,” recalled Luna, who escaped.
Others describe beatings, abuse, torture and a threats, as well as outright rape. Some girls were given to men who already had wives, including foreign fighters from Western nations who have joined the Islamic State.
Survivors recounted how some of the Iraqi women, first wives of the jihadists, sympathized with the Yazidi girls but were often powerless to intervene. Some however facilitated escapes.
“She was more than a mother to us. I could never forget this woman, she saved our lives,” one of the girls said about a local woman who took risks to help her flee.
Unlike Jews and Christians, the Islamic State does not view Yazidis as people with rights. The group instead considers them as devil-worshippers, allowing the fighters to kill, abuse and enslave them.
An edition of the Islamic State’s in-house magazine, Dabiq, recently focused on slavery, extoling its virtues. Germany’s Overseas Development Minister Gerd Mueller this week said Berlin is looking to set up a crisis centre for women who were abused by the Islamic State, but the programme would only facilitate 100 people. SAPA