Filmmaker Tells Congress: ISIS Raped 'Girls as Young as Nine'

By Penny Starr | August 3, 2015 | 11:18am EDT
British documentary filmmaker Edward Watts was a witness at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the brutal treatment of women by ISIS on July 29, 2015.( Starr)

( – Documentary filmmaker Edward Watts told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week that thousands of non-Muslim girls, many of them from Yazidi communities, are forced into sexual slavery and ordered to marry Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) terrorists.

“In the course of my work, I documented ISIS’s abduction of thousands of non-Muslim women and girls, their sexual enslavement and even the rape of girls as young as nine,” Watts said. “I gathered testimony that described markets where ISIS trade young women like cattle, or even rent them to each other for a few hundred dollars.

“These crimes are condoned, even celebrated, by ISIS’s official publications,” Watts said. “And it’s important to remember that Muslim women, too, endure terrible oppression.”

The disturbing testimony came at the first of several planned committee hearings that will examine "the challenges facing women and girls around the globe."

"The Committee has worked on a bipartisan basis to promote women in our development efforts, and I believe these hearings will allow us to build on that good work," Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-Calif.) explained.

Watts is producing a Frontline documentary for the Public Broadcasting System. "Escaping ISIS” tells the story of young women and girls who have fled from their captors.

In the film, an 18-year-old Yazidi woman says she was raped repeatedly by an ISIS commander.

“He raped me,” the girl says. “He put one of his toes in honey and put it in my mouth.”

She said she was also raped by the commander’s six bodyguards, who then handed her off to 12 other men.

Now, she said, she brushes her teeth 10 times a days in an effort to free herself from the odors she still smells, even after escaping. “It will stay with me forever,” the girl says.

A woman described how she tried to intervene on the behalf of a nine-year-old girl who was dragged into a bathroom by ISIS fighters. “They just took her, and it was really sad,” she said.

The film follows the efforts of a Yazidi attorney who has made it his mission to try to rescue the estimated 3,000 Yazidi women and children who have been kidnapped by ISIS fighters To date, he says his team of volunteers has rescued 100 women and children. And he says some of those volunteers have been ambushed and killed by ISIS.

Another witness at the hearing, Kathleen Kuehnast, a socio-cultural anthropologist with the United States Institute of Peace, told the hearing, "When sexual violence is used in war or by extremists groups to achieve their ends, it can be even more devastating than a gun."

“As ISIS captures land, resources, and people, it has borrowed a page out of the history of other wars where deploying sexual violence destroyed families, communities and the moral fiber of a society,” Kuehnast said.

The witnesses said the most effective way to help victims is to find them and treat them at the refugee camps scattered throughout the Middle East. According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book, more than 4 million Syrians are displaced in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Watts urged Congress to "ask what more we can do" for the victims.

MRC Store