Yazidi Victims of Mass Rape Threatened with Death Upon Release from ISIS Captivity
According to Kurdish media network Rudaw, seventeen-year-old “Suzan,” a Kurdish Yezidi girl was kidnapped, gang-raped, enslaved, and impregnated by ISIS warriors. Incredibly, she managed to escape and has told her story to Delal Sindy, a Swedish-Kurdish activist living in a Kurdish region.
“Suzan’s” story is surreal but alarmingly typical. She and other female sex slaves were lined up naked every morning, “smelled,” and then chosen either by ISIS militant Al-Russiyah, or by his bodyguards. They were beaten and gang-raped daily. When “Suzan” was sold to Al-Russiyah, she was held in a hotel in Mosul in a building full of half-naked girls and women.
The virgins were highly prized; as such, they were examined to make sure that their hymens were intact and then taken to a room filled with 30-40 men who chose among them.
Based on “Suzan’s” and other reports, sexually repressed Jihadic misogynists are treating innocent, virgin children as if they are sophisticated prostituted women, the kind of women that jihadists watch, addictively, in pornography. Among the recently released 216 Yazidi women, there was a nine-year-old Yazidi girl who was pregnant; she had been raped by at least ten Islamic jihadists.
ISIS fighters are also torturing the girls as if sadistic torture is synonymous with sexual expression. They are killing the girls, even burning them alive, when they resist or cannot perform.
“Suzan” reports that she was forced to “say things from the Quran” during the rapes. If she refused, they whipped her or burned her thighs with boiling water. ISIS fighters cut off the legs of one girl who tried to escape.
“Suzan’s” father is dead and she cannot find her mother, but her uncle has threatened to honor/“horror” kill her “if he finds out that she has been sexually abused or her honor ‘tainted.”’
Tragically, this is typical. If a rape victim has been brought up in a tribal shame-and-honor culture, one in which rape victims see themselves—and are seen—as “sexually inappropriate,” they are routinely honor/“horror” killed by their own families.
The raped Kurdish and Yazidi women and their Sunni Arab babies will never be accepted—not even though the “highest Yazidi cleric [has urged] families to accept and welcome the women who had fled ISIS.”
Rape is no longer merely a spoil of war. It has become a major weapon of war. Think Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan, and Nigeria. The repeated public gang-rapes of female children and women is meant to drive these victims out of their minds—which it often does. They become depressed, insomniac, and suicidal. “Suzan” is haunted by flashbacks and wishes she was dead. “I want to kill myself,” she says.
According to United Nations’ Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, although women are required to cover their heads under sharia law, ISIS fighters “have reportedly banned the captive girls from using headscarves after some of them used the scarves to hang themselves.”
This barbaric behavior during war is not new.
According to Algerian-American attorney Karima Bennoune, from 1992 on, Algerian fundamentalist Muslim men committed a series of “terrorist atrocities” against Algerian women. Bennoune describes the “kidnapping and repeated raping of young girls as sex slaves for armed fundamentalists. The girls were also forced to cook and clean for God’s warriors… one 17-year-old girl was repeatedly raped until pregnant. She was kidnapped off the street and held with other young girls, one of whom was shot in the head and killed when she tried to escape.”
Rape is “gender cleansing.” The intended effect of rape is always the same: to utterly break the spirit of the rape victim, to drive her out of her body and out of her mind so as to render her incapable of resistance.
According to Bennoune: “Terrorist attacks on women (in Algeria had ) the desired effect: widespread psychosis among the women; internal exile—living in hiding, both physically and psychologically, in their own country.” In Bennoune’s view, “the collective psychosis” was due to the “escalation of violence” by the “soldiers of the Islamic state.” According to Michael Curtis, M.D., an American volunteer-physician for Doctors Without Borders, “In Bosnia’s Tuzla camp, the leading cause of death [was] suicide, probably the only refugee camp in the world where that is the case.”
But some Muslim families refuse to demonize or kill the rape victim. In 2007, in Pakistan, thirteen-year old Kainat Soomro was chloroformed, drugged, kidnapped, and then gang-raped for three or four days by four men who threatened to kill or sell her. Kainat escaped, in her bare feet and without her headscarf.
Amazingly, her loving family refused to kill her. On the contrary: Kainat’s mother wept and kissed her. Her father and older brother proudly supported Kainat’s search for justice.
This family deserves a prize for having the courage and the sanity to stand up to tribal misogyny.
A grassroots feminist group, War Against Rape, found Kainat a pro bono lawyer. Bravely, Kainat agreed to endure a 5- to 10-year legal process, one in which she will be grilled in humiliating ways by sophisticated and politically powerful lawyers.
Kainat’s lawyer managed to have the four men jailed and held in jail without bail for three years. This, too, is amazing. Ultimately, the accused rapists prevailed. Dozens of villagers descended on the courthouse yelling that “Kainat is a whore.” Their winning defense was ingenious: They claimed that Kainat married one of them; the rapist produced Kainat’s thumbprint on a marriage document and a photo of the two of them, smiling. Kainat insisted that she was drugged and does not remember this. Her presumed bridegroom demanded that she return to him.
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