Human Rights

Syria: Yazidi Women And Children Continue To Bear Burden Of ISIS Past

Syria

A number of children in Syria have been born to Yazidi mothers who were kidnapped by ISIS terrorists. These children and women are now suffering in their communities as a result.

Yazidi women and children who underwent unspeakable horrors after being taken captive by ISIS are struggling to return to normal life and adapt to the challenges of in their new situations.

Many Yazidi women were captured by ISIS in 2014 and transported by militants across the group’s so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Thousands were sold into sexual slavery, while others were killed for escaping or going against orders.

For those that have escaped the group’s rule, much of the stigma associated with the ISIS-era remains, including for the children born to ISIS militants.

In April 2019, the Yazidi Spiritual Supreme Council made a decision not to accept the children born to Yazidi women who were raped by ISIS militants into their community. This came as a clarification after the Council had previously stated that “all survivors” of ISIS’ crimes and their children would be accepted in the community.

As a result of the Council’s decision, many mothers have faced the heartbreaking fate of being separated from their children, some even after being rescued.

“The Yazidi woman, when she comes after being freed from the camp, hands her baby over, and this is a great suffering for the mother and child,” said Najah Hussain, the Head of the Child Protection Centre in the city of Hasakah, which is located in north-eastern Syria. “Due to the customs and traditions, the Spiritual Council believes that these children are not his. The father is not Yazidi and for this reason, they never accept these children.”

While the women are trapped in a vicious social cycle, the Centre tries to look after children as best as they can, despite all the violence and horror that they have witnessed in their young lives.

“At first, the child suffers a lot, especially Yazidis, because he does not accept the new reality here. He only saw his mother in black and did not know how to distinguish between colours,” continued Najah. “Therefore, when any child comes, we try to provide him with a family atmosphere.”

It is believed that thousands of Yazidis were killed during ISIS’ reign of terror in Iraq and Syria, with many being massacred in cities such as Sinjar and Kocho. The fates of thousands of others remain unknown.