Meet the British Yazidi teen fighting to save her girlfriends from Isil’s sexual slavery
Exclusive: Yazidi Rozin Khalil Hanjool, 17, is petitioning the Government to rescue the thousands of women kidnapped by Isil back in her home town. She tearfully tells Radhika Sanghani why the world must listen and intervene
“My name is Rozin, I’m a 17-year-old Yazidi girl living in Coventry. I came here with my family in 2008 when it became too dangerous for us in Iraq.
“More than 3,000 Yazidi women and girls have been kidnapped by ISIS [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)] in Northern Iraq. When I hear what has happened to these girls I cry. It is my worst nightmare. I know girls as young as 12 have been taken. If I was there now I would be so, so scared.”
This is how Rozin Khalil Hanjool’s online petition urging the UK Government to help Yazidi girls and women begins.
She set it up two days ago in a desperate bid to force the West to help save these women who are being tortured, raped and sold into sexual slavery by Isil – some of whom are as young as eight. It’s unknown exactly how many Yazidi women have been kidnapped, but last year, it was reported the 5-7,000 women were taken by Isil.
- Yazidi girls as young as eight raped as Isil sex slaves, finds report
Hanjool is fighting to save these women and girls, many of whom have been there since August 2014 when Isil fighters targeted the Yazidi community – a Kurdish ethnic group in northern Iraq. Already more than 28,000 people all over the world have signed Hanjool’s Change.org petition calling for Britain to take action.
“So many of our girls have been kidnapped,” she tells me. “My family knows at least 50 who have been taken from our old village, Issia. There’s still so, so much danger for girls there who are at risk of being kidnapped, and I also just feel so sorry for the girls who escaped and are still scared.”
Hanjool is calling for the UK Government to help rescue the thousands of girls and women still held in captivity. She wants to meet Home Secretary Theresa May, Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening, and Foreign Minister Philip Hammond, and help prepare an action plan to save these women.
“I do believe that the Government are doing what they can but let’s hope they can do more,” she says. “I would be more than thankful if they could help to rescue girls – they should work with professionals, like a Yazidi lawyer [Khaleel al-Dakhi, recently featured in a Channel 4 documentary and interviewed by Telegraph Wonder Women] who is rescuing girls.”
She’s also urging the Government to keep a promise made last year at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, “to provide greater support and protection to survivors of sexual violence, including children”.
“I know a few girls who have escaped from the village I used to live in,” says Hanjool. “They’re finding it hard to speak because they’re traumatised and every time someone tries to speak to them, they faint and have panic attacks.
“A 12-year-old living in our village is pregnant. She really needs medical attention. They’re scared the pregnancy might kill her. The community tries to help with money for shelter and so on, but there’s not enough food and water. I would ask the MPs for some help to get the girls in a safe environment.”
A number of Yazidi women and girls who have escaped Isil are living in refugee camps, and Hanjool desperately wants better provisions for them, but she also has a wider goal. She wants to give these traumatised, terrified woman a reason to keep on going.
Hanjool cries down the phone as she tells me in broken English: “They’re constantly asking if there’s any hope. They feel like there isn’t any. I want to make them understand there are still people that care and will support them. I want them to know there are humans who do care and aren’t so cruel.
“I’m constantly asking myself and my mum, why is it only us who care? The girls may end up in another country where they may never be found. I feel disgusted honestly that people feel such things are normal or that it’s OK to do that.
“No one deserves to get pregnant at the age of nine or 12, or be put into sexual slavery or sold. No one deserves that. It’s against humanity.”
FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE CLICK LINKClick here for the Top 12 Moments in Jewish History...LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN! »