A German doctor has helped over 1,000 Yazidi girls and women heal from profound physical and psychological wounds brought on by sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS. Those women and girls describe their lives in ISIS captivity as “hell under ISIS.”
As Yahoo News reports, Doctor Jan Ilhan Kizilhan heads a project run by Baden Wurttemberg, a state in southwestern Germany, on a budget of $104 million.
Baden-Wurttemberg decided to act after seeing IS jihadists make incursions into northern Iraq in 2014, massacring all males and forcing tens of thousands of females into sexual slavery. The United Nations described the brutal attacks on the Yazidi people as “genocide.”
— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) February 29, 2016
Kizilhan says it is a dire situation, and is calling for other states and countries to respond like Baden-Wurttemberg, especially when there over 4,000 Yazidi girls and women still in captivity. He added “women who have escaped remain in the Iraqi heartland with little or no access to psychological help to battle the horrors they have gone through.”
The Yazidis are deeply conservative with their beliefs. Females who are raped and impregnated by IS jihadists are seen as a source of dishonor and abandoned.
“Those who are shunned become impoverished and risk falling into prostitution to support themselves and a large number commit suicide. Over the last year, I have documented more than 20 cases of suicide. The number might actually be closer to 150.”
Warning: the next two paragraphs of this post contain content that may be disturbing to some readers.
He recounts the shocking tale of a girl he met at a refugee camp with over 80% of her body covered in burns. IS fighters had held the girl and her sisters for weeks, torturing and raping them repeatedly before they eventually escaped. The unfortunate girl dreamt of IS jihadists outside her tent in a refugee and panicked, drenching herself with gasoline she set herself ablaze. Her thinking was that she would rather burn alive than be raped again by her IS captors.
The girl was immediately transported to Germany, where she remains in a hospital. She has already had over a dozen surgeries and still needs 30 more. Most of the females in the rehabilitation program are between the ages of 16 and 20. The oldest is in her 40s. The youngest girl is just eight. The girl was sold 8 times and raped a 100 times more by the jihadist captors.
Germany offers Yazidi rape victims a refuge https://t.co/3MFcGXwXLa pic.twitter.com/QXEHmCdnod
— The Times of London (@thetimes) February 29, 2016
Kizilhan is optimistic that the victims can still make something out of their lives. “They need the feeling of security. Psychotherapy will not start for another 3-6 months, for fear of retraumatizing the women and girls that have been through hell.”
A UN report has claimed that the sadistic impact of ISIS has claimed over 18,800 lives, with a further 3.2 million people displaced. The report reveals shootings, beheadings, people burnt alive and even being thrown from rooftops, amounting to crimes against humanity. Reporters and activists have tried to gather information inside ISIS territory but have been greatly resisted. The ISIS group is notorious for executing journalists, including female journalist Ruqia Hassan.
ISIS militants consider Yazidis as “devil-worshippers.” The ancient religion blends elements of Islam with Zoroastrianism and Christianity, and had a minority population of half a million in Iraq before the ISIS crisis.
Some former sex slaves have taken up arms and formed an all-female battalion known as the “Force of the Sun Ladies.” Their quest is to preserve their race and seek revenge against their captors.
“Whenever a war wages, our women end up as victims. Now we are defending ourselves from the evil. We are defending all the minorities in the region. We will do whatever is asked of us, ” said Khatoon Khider one of the 100 Yazidi women trained by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
[Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images]