“Sometimes I was sold. Sometimes I was given as a gift.”

HRW reports on what ISIS/Daesh is doing to Yezidi women and girls in northern Iraq. HRW interviewed 20 women and girls who escaped.

ISIS forces took several thousand Yezidi civilians into custody in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province in August 2014, according to Kurdistan officials and community leaders. Witnesses said that fighters systematically separated young women and adolescent girls from their families and other captives and moved them from one location to another inside Iraq and Syria.

The 11 women and 9 girls Human Rights Watch interviewed had escaped between September 2014 and January 2015. Half, including two 12-year-old girls, said they had been raped – some multiple times and by several ISIS fighters. Nearly all of them said they had been forced into marriage; sold, in some cases a number of times; or given as “gifts.” The women and girls also witnessed other captives being abused.

I think that must mean they were all raped. I wonder if they’re not calling it rape if they were forced into “marriage.” (In my view forced “marriage” shouldn’t be called marriage at all. That’s not marriage, it’s enslavement. The two should be treated as radically different.)

Human Rights Watch also interviewed more than a dozen international and local service providers, medical workers, Kurdish officials, community leaders, and activists who corroborated these accounts. A local doctor treating female survivors in Dohuk told Human Rights Watch that of the 105 women and girls she had examined, 70 appeared to have been raped in ISIS captivity.

I wonder if that means “appeared to have had sex” or “appeared to have been violently subjected to sex.” The first would still be rape, given the circumstances.

In October 2014, ISIS acknowledged in its publication Dabiq that its fighters had given captured Yezidi women and girls to its fighters as “spoils of war.”

Oh, I don’t think “acknowledged” is the right word. I think they proclaimed it, boastfully and proudly.

In October 2014, ISIS acknowledged in its publication Dabiq that its fighters had given captured Yezidi women and girls to its fighters as “spoils of war.” ISIS has sought to justify sexual violence claiming that Islam permits sex with non-Muslim “slaves,” including girls, as well as beating and selling them. The statements are further evidence of a widespread practice and a systematic plan of action by ISIS, Human Rights Watch said.

Well, Islam does permit sex with non-Muslim slaves, as the bible does with its outgroups.

The women and girls who spoke to Human Rights Watch described repeated rape, sexual violence, and other abuse in ISIS captivity.

Jalila (all survivors’ names have been changed for their security), age 12, said that Arab men whom she recognized from her village north of Sinjar accosted her and seven family members on August 3, 2014, as they were trying to flee ISIS. The men handed the family over to ISIS fighters, who separated Jalila, her sister, sister-in-law, and infant nephew from the other family members and took them to Tal Afar. Later, the fighters took Jalila and her sister to Mosul. Thirty-five days later they separated Jalila from her sister and took her to a house in Syria that housed other abducted young Yezidi women and girls. Jalila said:

The men would come and select us. When they came, they would tell us to stand up and then examine our bodies. They would tell us to show our hair and sometimes they beat the girls if they refused. They wore dishdashas [ankle length garments], and had long beards and hair.

She said that the ISIS fighter who selected her slapped her and dragged her out of the house when she resisted. “I told him not to touch me and begged him to let me go,” she said. “I told him to take me to my mother. I was a young girl, and I asked him, ‘What do you want from me?’ He spent three days having sex with me.”

Jalila said that during her captivity, seven ISIS fighters “owned” her, and four raped her on multiple occasions: “Sometimes I was sold. Sometimes I was given as a gift. The last man was the most abusive; he used to tie my hands and legs.”

Age 12.

To be continued.


  1. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    As to the question at the top about why there seem to be rapes omitted, I don’t think it’s a refusal to call it rape due to the “marriage” but is just really narrowly construed in this sentence: Half, including two 12-year-old girls, said they had been raped. It doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched to think that a number of these women and girls might have a hard time actually saying “I was raped,” especially considering how recently it happened and how horrific their experience was. It’s not uncommon for victims to have serious difficulty in calling what happened “rape” even in arguably-less-traumatic circumstances.

  2. johnthedrunkard says

    Let’s ask Chomsky to explain again why this is all Bush’s fault. Or somehow ‘not about’ Islam.

    The morality of actual people is almost always superior to that of their ‘holy books.’ But some books are worse than others, and vast numbers of people will abandon basic decency if religious authority demands it of them.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    johnthedrunkard @ # 3: Let’s ask Chomsky to explain again …

    Which strongly implies that Chomsky “explained” that before.

    Which in turn calls for a big-flashing-red-letters “Citation Needed”.

  4. quixote says

    Isn’t it a fairly common practice in the Middle East to use “marriage” as a euphemism? I remember news reports about some kind of temporary “marriages” for money in Iran, which the rest of us would just call trafficking in women. There was also something about Boko Haram (not in Middle East, but same idea) saying that they were going to “marry” kidnapped girls to their thugs.

    An extreme instance of using terminology to feel better about committing crimes?

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