Traumatised Yazidi girls are having secret abortions and operations to repair virginity after months of being used as sex slaves by Isis fighters
- Hundreds of Yazidi girls and women held as sex slaves in Islamic State
- Some who have escaped have returned pregnant by their captors
- Abortion is illegal in Kurdistan, but some doctors are breaking the law
Doctors in Kurdistan are breaking the law by performing abortions on young Yazidi girls who have been released after being held as sex slaves by ISIS fighters.
Traumatised after months of rape and torture at the hands of ISIS militants, some of victims have returned after falling pregnant by their captors and further at risk at being ostracised by their community, which frowns upon pre-marital sex.
Now, some Kurdish doctors are allegedly performing illegal abortions and secret surgeries to ‘reverse loss of virginity’ on the victims, some of whom are as young as eight, the Sunday Times reports.
The young girls, some barely teenagers, are some of around 40,000 people kidnapped at gunpoint when Islamic State fighters attacked Yazidi villages last summer.
The women who have escaped now face being shunned by their strict religious communities, and many are erase to hide the physical evidence of their time in captivity, Hala Jaber writes in the Sunday Times.
Some Yazidi girls are secretly undergoing abortions, banned in Kurdistan even in cases of rape, and seeking hymen surgery to ‘reverse the loss of virginity’.
A recent study by Human Rights watch has found that ISIS fighters have been kidnapping women and children as young as eight, forcing them to marry and convert to Islam and raping them repeatedly.
Around 40,000 people were kidnapped at gunpoint when Islamic State fighters attacked Yazidi villages last summer.
Hundreds have been able to return, either by fleeing or being set free by ISIS, and many young women who has been held as sex slaves.
Their terrifying campaign of systematic rape was tantamount to war crimes – and possibly crimes against humanity, the report adds.
Human Rights Watch has collected the accounts of 20 women and girls who escaped from ISIS, which they say shows a system of organised rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery and forced marriage – acts that constitute war crimes.
Now they are urging that survivors get the medical and psychological treatment that they need to cope with the unimaginable trauma they suffered.
A 31-year-old Yazidi woman named Rashida told the charity she was told by her brother to commit suicide if she was unable to escape the ISIS fighters who had captured her.
‘Later that day they made a lottery of our names and started to choose women by drawing out the names’, the 31-year-old said.
‘The man who selected me, Abu Ghufran, forced me to bathe but while I was in the bathroom I tried to kill myself.
‘I had found some poison in the house, and took it with me to the bathroom. I knew it was toxic because of its smell.
‘I distributed it to the rest of the girls and we each mixed some with water in the bathroom and drank it. None of us died but we all got sick.’
Another woman, identified as Dilara, said she was taken to a wedding hall in Syria where ISIS fighters told the group to forget their relatives and prepare to marry them and bear their children.
From 9:30am in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them.
She told Human Rights Watch: ‘I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted.
‘They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls.
The girls’ ages ranged from eight to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.’
This comes just weeks after the release of 216 Yazidi prisoners who had been held captive since last summer when ISIS militants attacked their villages in the area around Sinjar in northwestern Iraq.
The freed prisoners said that they had been led to believe they were being led to their execution, but instead, were piled onto a minibus that drove them to peshmerga positions.
It was not clear why the radical jihadists had decided to release the Yazidis, whom they consider devil-worshippers, but the group previously freed 200 more it was holding under similarly mysterious circumstances.
Yazidi activists say many remain in the hands of Islamic State, which has often subjected women to rape or sexual slavery.
The United Nations said last month that the Islamic State may have committed genocide against the minority.
The Yazidis are an ancient, predominantly Kurdish, people who follow their own religion derived from Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.
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