Yazidi girls speak of ‘systematic rape’ under ISIS

HRW said Yazidi women enslaved by ISIS were exposed to “a system of organized rape and sexual assault”

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Young Yazidi girls and women who were seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants were subjected to “systematic rape and other sexual violence” in northern Iraq, a rights group report has stated.

Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday that Yazidi women were exposed to “a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces."

“ISIS forces have committed organized rape, sexual assault, and other horrific crimes against Yazidi women and girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at HRW.

“Those fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the unimaginable trauma they endured.”

The findings were based on research on the town of Dohuk in January and February 2015, where HRW says it interviewed 20 women and girls who escaped from ISIS captivity.

ISIS captured several thousand Yazidi civilians in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province in August 2014, according to local officials.

Witnesses quoted in the HRW report said ISIS militants “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.”

HRW interviewed 11 women and 9 girls who managed to escape between September 2014 and January 2015.

A 12-year-old survivor, whose real name was concealed and was given the name “Jalila” to protect her identity, spoke of her ordeal under ISIS.

“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 added.

Jalila said that the ISIS militant who selected her “slapped her and dragged her out of the house when she resisted,” according to the HRW report.

“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.”

During her captivity, Jalila said she was “owned” by seven ISIS fighters, 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.”

Tens of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee villages in northern Iraq when ISIS advanced last summer and attacked the area around Mount Sinjar. Many of them were killed or captured and enslaved.

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