Among the unthinkable acts of terror struck on by ISIS, is that of sex slavery. Not only has this despicable act blossomed into an ‘industry’ that flourishes among those not affiliated with ISIS, but it has become increasingly difficult to halt due to a rise in security by ISIS.
Thousands of Yazidi women have been subjugated to act as sex slaves for ISIS militants and supporters. They have been showcased as though they were objects and abused to the point that many found death to be a preferable alternative, and committed suicide.
Why Yazidi women?
The ethnic group of Yazidis, predominantly prevalent in Iraq, has been a group targeted throughout history, and although they have sustained their culture and religion through years of the threat of extermination, they continue to face danger beyond belief at the hands of terrorist groups like ISIS. Ethnically, the Yazidis are Kurdish, but what sets them apart is the unique mosaic of ancient religions that forms their beliefs, drawn from Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Islam. They worship a fallen angel, Melek Tawwus, who, in their religion, was forgiven by God and returned to heaven. Their worship of Melek is viewed as devil-worship, in the eyes of some other religions, hence their susceptibility as a religion to much criticism and attack over the years. ISIS and Al-Qaida, among other terrorist groups, have denounced Yazidis as infidels, performing mass executions and taking captive Yazidi women and children as sex slaves.
Some Testimonials from Survivors
One Iraqi journalist and photographer interviewed some survivors of the sex slave trade, and their chilling and heartwrenching testimonials goes to show how inhumane ISIS’ treatment of these innocent women, and children, were. In several testimonials, the survivors stated that the women and men were separated, the men shot, then the women taken away to partake in the sex slave trade, as though they were animals.
Many were not fed, or given water, caught diseases, were beaten, and forced into marriage and more horrific acts by their ‘owners’ Here is just an excerpt from the heartbreaking stories, that shows the psychological and physical damage these ISIS militants wreaked on these innocent women: “The saddest thing I remember, during those terrible months, was this little girl, 12 years old. They raped her without mercy.” “When they heard an airplane they would send me out; they thought that if the pilots saw me they would not bomb them. I hoped they would.”
What is being done to help these innocent women?
ISIS’ sex trade has been flourishing thus far thanks to encrypted apps like Telegram and Whatsapp, which allow the users to communicate and share information without revealing their identity. As opposition forces move further into ISIS territory, making it somewhat harder for ISIS to find captives to engulf in their sex trade, ISIS has increased security surrounding currently held sex slaves. According to Mirza Danai, “”They register every slave, every person under their owner, and therefore if she escapes, every Daesh control or checkpoint, or security force they know that this girl … has escaped from this owner”. There’s not much more than can be said on this topic. It is beyond despicable and inhumane. But unfortunately, there’s no tangible form of action for us to take to help these innocent women, besides supporting organisations that aid in rehabilitation of survivors.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that although the mass killings and terrorist attacks are the first things that come to mind when we hear of ISIS, ISIS is not an organisation that respects or cares for its own race or religion. They show no mercy to anyone. So to those who believe all terrorists to be Muslim, take a look at the heart wrenching testimonials of the innocent women taken as slaves by ISIS, these attacks do not discriminate in the slightest.
Regardless, ISIS is using the Quran and Islam to justify their actions, therefore we cannot continue to completely dissociate Islam from ISIS either. There is a level of understanding we must have as bystanders to the many different perspectives surrounding this issue, we cannot blind ourselves of one argument for fear of being judged or misheard. The key here is, we cannot fight a force if we limit our knowledge and understanding. Ignorance is only fuel to their ammunition, and educating ourselves is essential.