The media has always depicted the horrors that Isis have forced upon people’s lives across the world, not only in Iraq, but also the lives of people much closer to home. Isis have entered mainstream media through their consistent attacks on innocent men, women and children, through bombings and other means of attack, almost always in the form of suicide by the terrorist. A report by CNN in February 2018 had stated that Isis had “conducted or inspired more than 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries other than Iraq and Syria, where its carnage has taken a much deadlier toll. Those attacks have killed at least 2,043 people and injured thousands more”. These fatal attacks demonstrate the ruthlessness Isis carries with its name, and how Isis affects the world around it in a deadly manner. However, what of the women who are coerced or forced into an Isis home, to live among members of Isis and face the reality that they are to do everything required of them in the eyes of Isis or face death?
Women across the world are volunteering to join Isis in order to feel a sense of purpose regarding their religion, as are men. Yet, there are many women who are physically taken from their homes and given the option to comply with their new Isis lives or die. The Yazidi women of Iraq are just one example of the brutalities that women face at the hands of Isis.
On 3rd August 2014 Peshmerga (a Kurdish group) which literally translates to “those who face death”, fled the town of Kojo where Isis was moving towards. Isis had also taken Sinjar that day, in which some 300,000 people were surrounded by men with guns and no way to escape. One woman, Leila, was hounded into a truck with the rest of her family and taken to government offices in Sinjar, where men and women were then separated. Around 9pm the same night, men in Isis began to inspect women with lanterns held up to their faces and take certain women away one by one. Although unclear at the time, Isis had just pre-planned a mass abduction of women and children for the purpose of institutionalised rape, in which they were specifically searching for unmarried women over the age of eight.
Leila was then taken to Raqqa in Syria and then was eventually bought by a farmer from a village near Sinjar, who knew her as a child. The same man sold her off three days later to an Isis military commander, who tortured and raped her in captivity for a year and “did a lot of terrible things – actions against God” - Leila. Leila managed to escape the nightmare she was living in 2016; however, even after returning home she has been experiencing flashbacks of the year she spent in hell, having nightmares that she will be taken back to Isis any day. Leila stated that “The Yazidis will never recover” and that “Even if we marry or fall in love, there will still be this thing inside that is broken”. She posed the question “We know most of [the captives] are in Raqqa, so why are they not going to save them there? Why are they taking these empty villages?”.
Aveen, a 26 year old Yazidi woman, also experienced vast amounts of torture when she was captured by Isis in 2014. Now living in in Stuttgart, Germany, she sleeps in one of the 20 dorm rooms that allow for little room. In Aveen’s eyes this room is her “sanctuary”; somewhere she can break free from her past as an Isis sex slave. For almost a year, she was subjected to tremendous abuse and was sold on several occasions between Isis fighters. She was saved by the “Special Quotas Project”, in 2016, in which Germany brought 1100 women and children to the country.
Dr. Jan Kizilhan, who aided the 1100 women and children to Germany, interviewed more that 1400 survivors, the youngest being 8 years old, having been sold 10 times. According to Kizilhan, she was “raped hundreds of times” over the period of eight months “everyday”. He goes on to state that although these women have been through hell “They are strong. They will fight to survive.”
It is clear through the suffering of these women that Isis affects more than just people in developed countries; their impact is far reaching and extremely destructive across the globe.
Original image by Izzy Bly.