Escapees Give Look at ISIS' Brutal, Systematic Rape

Yazidi women, girls face widespread, unimaginable sexual violence
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2015 4:05 PM CDT
In this Tuesday, April 15, 2015 photo, a Yazidi woman whispers in the ear of a friend as both hold small fires for the Yazidi new year, at the shrine of Lalish, north of the militant-held Mosul, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
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(Newser) Women sold into marriage for $1,000. A 14-year-old girl given as a gift, the subject of daily beatings and numerous rape attempts. Hundreds, even thousands "shattered" by rape, slavery, torture. Released captives claiming "they did bad things." The latest report of ISIS' well-documented and poisonous sexual violence against women of the Yazidi religious sect comes via Human Rights Watch, which today reports on 11 women and nine girls who escaped ISIS in the northern Iraq town of Dohuk and who describe "a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces." Per the HRW report:

  • Ten said they had been raped, some multiple times or by multiple militants. These included two 12-year-olds, one of whom told a fighter who chose her "not to touch me and begged him to let me go. He spent three days having sex with me." Nearly all were forced into marriage, sold, or given as gifts. One 20-year-old described a wedding hall containing 60 Yazidis. ISIS fighters "would come to buy girls. ... They were like animals. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls," who ranged in age from 8 to 30.

  • Suicide attempts are prevalent; several admitted to having attempted to take their own lives or witnessed others do so in order to avoid sexual violence or forced conversion. One woman who managed to call her brother said he told her he'd try to help, but if not "I should commit suicide because it would be better than the alternative."
  • One doctor in Dohuk who treated 105 women and girls said that 70 of them appeared to have been raped. Of those interviewed, even those who weren't raped were traumatized by witnessing attacks and worrying they might be next.
  • The violence has created a need for support services, including medical treatment, counseling, emergency contraception, support services for children of rape, etc., says HRW. Yazidi "women and girls who escaped ISIS still face enormous challenges and continuing trauma from their experience," says HRW's women's rights director. "They need urgent help and support to recover their health and move on with their lives."
The full HRW report is here.

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