Yazidi women commit suicide to escape IS sex slavery

Yazidi women commit suicide to escape IS sex slavery
Yazidi women captured in northern Iraq are committing suicide to escape sexual slavery by the Islamic State group, Amnesty International has said.
2 min read
23 December, 2014
Yazidis have fled IS in their thousands [AFP]
Yazidi women attempting to escape sexual slavery forced on them by the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) have sometimes only managed so by paying the ultimate price: committing suicide.

According to a report released Tuesday by Amnesty International, women and girls from the Yazidi  religious minority in northern Iraq were often so desparate to escape captivity they tried to kill themselves after IS swept through their traditional homelands.

     Many of those held as sexual slaves are children - girls aged 14, 15 or even younger.

- Donatella Rovera, Amnesty
Escape from hell: Torture, sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity in Iraq documents individual stories from IS captivity.

One girl, who managed to escape, girl who told Amnesty how a 19-year-old held with her, Jilan, committed suicide out of fear she would be raped.

"One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes. Jilan killed herself in the bathroom."

"She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful; I think she knew she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself."

The account of Jilan's death had earlier been told to Amnesty by her brother.

IS consider Yazidis to be pagans, and have murdered Yazidi civilians, as well as enslaving women and children.

"Many of those held as sexual slaves are children - girls aged 14, 15 or even younger," Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser, said in a statement. 

Amnesty detailed a number of similar stories including that of a woman called Wafa, along with her sister, who tried to kill herself to escape a forced marriage.

"We tied... scarves around our necks and pulled away from each other as hard as we could, until I fainted. I could not speak for several days after that," Wafa, 27, told Amnesty.

There was also the story of Randa, 16, who was raped by a man twice her age after she was abducted with her family.

"It is so painful what they did to me and to my family," Randa said.

Rovera said the women had suffered "catastrophic" damage.

"The physical and psychological toll of the horrifying sexual violence these women have endured is catastrophic.

"Many of them have been tortured and treated as chattel. Even those who have managed to escape remain deeply traumatised."

A US-led coalition has been carrying out a campaign of air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria in an attempt to halt the group's advance.