A Yazidi girl in Iraq recounts her horrific story of being repeatedly sold as a sex slave by ISIS militants and their wives.
Long after the defeat of ISIS, the group’s victims are still reeling from the devastating impacts of their rule. In many instances, their scars are psychological, and far longer-lasting than the physical injuries borne by hundreds of thousands during the war. This is particularly true for Yazidi women and girls, who suffered untold misery and pain under ISIS rule.
Sherihan, like many surviving Yazidi women in Iraq, was raped, kidnapped and sold as a sex slave more than a dozen times by ISIS militants. When ISIS entered Sinjar in August 2014, they embarked on a genocidal killing spree targeting thousands of Yazidis, mostly men, in what came to be known as the Sinjar massacre. Thousands of others were kidnapped, mostly women and young children. Amongst those kidnapped were Sherihan, her mother and her younger brother.
Sherihan’s mother was bold and defiant in the face of tyranny, but this courage ultimately cost her her life as she was killed by her abductors after shooting dead one of them with a hand pistol.
Sherihan was then taken to Raqqa in neighbouring Syria with another enslaved girl, where she was handcuffed, tortured, beaten, starved and imprisoned. It was there that she was sold repeatedly as a sex slave amongst the militants, whose wives would participate in doing their make-up and hair for the purposes of taking photographs of them with price tags.
For four years, Sherihan was forced by her captors to fast for Ramadan without Suhoor (the evening meal) because she was a Yazidi “infidel”.
Yazidism is an ancient, monotheistic religion (not polytheistic as sometimes claimed) that bears the heritage of many older eastern faiths. Yazidis were seen as “infidels” by ISIS owing to their ideological differences, and as such were systematically persecuted by the militant group during its dark days of ascendancy.