Syrian Yazidi recounts life under ISIS for Yazidis

The Yazidi woman, Islam Maytat, was one of thousands of Yazidis who were held captive by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. As with many other testimonies of Yazidis who fled the group’s rule, Islam sheds light on the brutal treatment experienced by Yazidi women, and how they were dealt with differently compared to other women.

According to Islam, Yazidi women were bought and sold like commodities by ISIS militants, with some women bought up to ten times a week by different men. One of her friends, who was the only person to escape with her, was bought by 12 different militants.

For Yazidis, however, rules of purchase were different than for other women. “If their wives are divorced, they would spend three months before marrying again,” explains Islam. “If her husband is killed while she isn’t pregnant, she waits for 4 months and 10 days to remarry. If she is pregnant, she waits until her pregnancy ends and then she gets married.”

Islam hears, and has heard, many stories about other women treated in savage and inhumane ways. In one case, Islam talks about a young girl who suffered from “internal bleeding”. But luckily the girl, who was only 9-years-old, managed to escape and met Islam when she arrived to the centre.

The plight of the Yazidi people in Iraq and Syria is a tragic story, with thousands of women taken captive, thousands of men killed, and thousands of others still missing. For those who are now free, life continues, although many still suffer the psychological effects of the group’s brutal rule.