ISIS Genocide of Yazidis: ‘Girls As Young as 9 Were Raped, As Were Pregnant Women’

Michael W. Chapman | October 7, 2016 | 2:32pm EDT
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A young Yazidi woman who escaped

from ISIS captivity.  (AP) 

WARNING: Some of the events reported in this article describe brutal sexual violence and the murder of women and children.

( --  The Islamic radicals that comprise ISIS are committing genocide against the Yazidis in Iraq and Syria and, according to the United Nations, women and girls as young as nine are being sold as slaves to ISIS soldiers who regularly beat them and rape them, re-sell them, and, if they try to escape, kill them.

As the U.N. Human Rights Council has reported, “While held by ISIS fighters, Yazidi women and girls over the age of nine are subjected to brutal sexual violence. Most of those interviewed reported violent daily rapes by their fighter-owners. Some were handcuffed behind their backs during the rapes while others had their hands and legs tied to the corners of the beds.” 

“Little, if anything, protects against rape,” said the U.N. “Girls as young as nine were raped, as were pregnant women.”

The U.N. Human Rights Council published its report in June, They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis,  and it states, “ISIS has committed the crime of genocide as well as multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Yazidis….” 

The U.S. and British governments have officially declared that ISIS’s actions constitute genocide.

A Yazidi girl who was raped and then

killed by ISIS fighters. (Screenshot.)

The U.N. report focuses on the Islamic State’s attack on Yazidi villages in Sinjar (northern Iraq) in August 2014 and the subsequent genocide of the Yazidi people, which has included mass murder, beheadings, the rape of women and children, and the buying and selling of women and girls as sex slaves at marketplaces and online.

The report, based on 45 interviews with survivors, medical personnel, and journalists, says “over 3,200 Yazidi women and children are still held by ISIS. Most are in Syria where Yazidi females continue to be sexually enslaved and Yazidi boys, indoctrinated, trained and used in hostilities. Thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing. The genocide of the Yazidis is on-going.”

In the report there is a section entitled “ISIS treatment of Yazidi women and girls aged 9 and above.” This section details what happened to Yazidi women in the first day of the attacks (Aug. 3, 2014) and what subsequently occurred as the women were transferred to various holding sites in Iraq and Syria and sold as slaves. Listed below are some of the facts and statements concerning the fate of those women and girls.

  • Fighters separated married females from unmarried females. Only girls aged eight years and under were allowed to remain with their mothers.
  • Mass killing. In the early hours of 16 August 2014, ISIS executed older women (who were approximately 60 years and older) from Kocho at the Solagh Technical Institute.
  • Holding sites. Interviewees reported being given food with insects in it and having to drink water out of the toilets. Many, particularly infants and young children, became very sick. No medical care was provided.
  • ISIS brought in a female gynecologist in an effort to identify single females who had falsely declared themselves to be married.

  • The selection of any girl was accompanied by screaming as she was forcibly pulled from the room, with her mother and any other women who tried to keep hold of her being brutally beaten by fighters.
  • Some [women and girls] committed suicide at holding sites in Tel Afar, Mosul and in Raqqah city.
  • At the main holding site in Raqqah city, a Yazidi girl attempted to kill herself by throwing herself from the second floor of the building. Severely injured, ISIS fighters forbade the other Yazidi captives from helping her.
  • Some women and girls killed themselves by cutting their wrists or throats, while others hanged themselves using their headscarves.
  • Captured Yazidi women and girls are deemed property of ISIS and are openly termed sabaya or slaves.
  • ISIS sells Yazidi women and girls in slave markets, or souk sabaya, or as individual purchases to fighters who come to the holding centres.
An ISIS fighter speaking before the start of a slave auction of Yazidi women and girls. (Sceenshot: YouTube)
  • In the last year, ISIS fighters have started to hold online slave auctions, using the encrypted Telegraph application to circulate photos of captured Yazidi women and girls, with details of their age, marital status, current location and price.
  • In Syria, slave markets were held in “the farm” in Raqqah city, and in buildings in Al-Bab, Al-Shaddadi, Al-Mayadin and Tadmur. A central committee, the Committee for the Buying and Selling of Slaves, organizes the Yazidi slave markets.
  • A woman, sold at a slave market at “the farm” in Raqqah city, recounted, “ISIS would buy and sell girls there. There was a raised area we had to stand on. If we refused, the fighters would beat us with wooden sticks. There were maybe 200 Yazidi girls there. The youngest was between seven and nine years old. Most were quite young.”
  • Prices for the Yazidi women and girls ranged between $200 and $1,500 depending on marital status, age, number of children, and beauty.
A Yazidi woman who eventually escaped from ISIS captivity.  (AP) 
  • One ISIS fighter bought a woman at the slave auction in Raqqah in 2015. On placing her in his car, he told her “You are like a sheep. I have bought you.” He sold her seven days later to an Algerian ISIS fighter living in Aleppo.
  • Once ISIS sells a Yazidi woman and girl, the purchasing fighter receives complete rights of ownership and can resell, gift, or will his “slave” as he wishes.
  • Girls as young as nine were raped, as were pregnant women.
  • ISIS fighters threatened Yazidi women and girls, saying any resistance on their part would be punished by gang rape.
  • A Yazidi woman bought by a Saudi recounted, “[H]e raped me every day that I was with him…. He told me that if I did not let him do this thing to me that he would bring four or five men and they would all take turns raping me. I had no choice. I wanted to die.”
  • Another woman, held in Minbej (Aleppo), was told by her Syrian fighter- owner that if she resisted, he would throw her off the roof of his house. Some women also reported that the fighter threatened to sell or beat their children.
ISIS fighters in Iraq. (AP) 
  • ISIS fighters routinely beat Yazidi women and girls in their possession.
  • One woman, held in northern Syria, reported that her fighter-owner killed several of her children after an escape attempt. The fighter continued to hold and rape her for over six months after her children’s deaths.
  • Fighters also order and supervise the gang rapes of Yazidi women and girls who try to escape. A woman, unmarried and in her early 20s, was held by ISIS for over a year during which she was sold nine times. Purchased by a fighter in Minbej, she attempted to escape. When she was caught, he dragged her back to the house where he and several other fighters raped and beat her.
  • An 18-year-old Yazidi girl bought by a Libyan was raped daily throughout her time with this fighter, and described being forced to take [birth control] pills every day. Held in ISIS captivity for over a year, she was sold eight times and raped hundreds of times, before being sold back to her family for over 20,000 US dollars.
  • Some Yazidi women [pregnant by rape] gave birth in captivity or upon release but many appear to have given the infants away in circumstances that remain unclear. None of the birth control methods forced upon the Yazidi women and girls protected them from sexually transmitted diseases.

Yazidi women who escaped from ISIS.  (Screenshot: BBC)

  • In addition to the physical wounds and scars, most Yazidi women and girls spoke of thoughts of suicide, of being unable to sleep due to nightmares about ISIS fighters at their door. “I wish I was dead. I wish the ground would open and kill me and my children,” said one woman, held for 17 months.
  • Women and girls who were rescued or sold back are consumed by thoughts of their missing husbands, fathers and brothers, and by the distress of not knowing the locations and fate of young sons taken for training and/or daughters who were sold into sexual slavery and remain in the hands of ISIS.
  • One Yazidi woman, in her early 20s and married with children, has over 20 members of her family missing, including most of her close male relatives.

The full report by the U.N. Human Rights Council, They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis, can be read here

A Yazidi woman killed by ISIS.  (Screenshot: YouTube) 



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