Farida Khalaf is a Yazidi woman from the village of Kocho in Sinjar, who escaped from ISIS and was forced into seeking refuge in Germany. Upon her arrival in Germany, Khalaf founded the Yazda organisation and dedicated her activism to raising awareness about kidnapped Yazidi women.
Farida Khalaf is one of thousands of Yazidi girls who were kidnapped and held captive by ISIS militants who occupied the predominantly Yazidi region of Sinjar in northern Iraq back in 2014. She has now left her native village of Kocho in Sinjar and is working with the Yazda organisation to assist Yazidi women with their various needs.
Farida found it extremely difficult returning to Kocho. Memories of the ISIs infiltration into the village had not faded and the village had been emptied of most of its former population, leaving a glaring void in the place that she imagined to be her home.
ISIS’ crimes against the Yazidi population did not include only massacres, but also the kidnapping of women and children, and a process of cultural assimilation that saw many Yazidi children lose their native language and identity.
The torturous nature of living under the enslavement of the terrorist group has left an indelible and traumatic mark on Yazidi women and children who were held captive. Several women have spoken out about the severe harassment that they experienced at the hands of ISIS militants, who committed various inhumane acts, including rape. The terrorist group had also established a sex slave trade network that spread across the territories that they had occupied across Iraq and Syria, as some Yazidi women had recounted about how they were moved from northern Iraq to Raqqa to be sold there.
The Yazda organisation was established in 2014 as a response to the genocidal ethnic cleansing of Yazidis by ISIS militants. It provides humanitarian assistance in the form of food to the Yazidi population who are currently residing in the Sinjar region. The organisation is also documenting the crimes that were committed by ISIS and submitted a detailed report to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In addition, an important aspect of their work is to provide psychological assistance to those woman who experienced severe trauma and have been finding it difficult to integrate into society and form social bonds based on a trust that was lost during their captivity under ISIS rule.