Yazidi girls who were held in captivity by ISIS are now taking part in skills training and social activities at a refugee camp near Dohuk, hoping to erase the horrific memories of the past.
Iman, a young Yazidi woman, says that despite all of the horrors that she witnessed when she was captured at the age of 11 by ISIS in 2014, she is determined to overcome the pain and live her life to the fullest, choosing to forget the details of her imprisonment.
After escaping the militant group, the young Yazidi has chosen to open an apparel shop inside the refugee camp she currently resides in, on the outskirts of Dohuk.
“ISIS militants have indeed assaulted us aggressively, but I do not want to live my life recalling that dark stage,” said Iman, who is now 16 years old. “I want to live and be open to the future. Therefore, I resumed my studies, found this work, and am smiling back at life once again.”
While the plight of the Yazidi people continues to take place, with over 3,000 women and children still missing, many of the Yazidis who have returned to their homes or are currently in displacement camps say they are seeking to move past the pain and resume their role within society.
A recent decree by the Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council also made this possible by encouraging the community to accept the women who were taken by ISIS. Although this decree does not cover the children that these women were forced to have with ISIS militants, many continue to see the decree as a fresh breath of air that will encourage Yazidis to accept the women who were taken by the militant group.
As such, many Yazidi women have chosen to reengage with society, choosing to study, work, support their families, and get married.
“Life does not stop. Most survivors are convinced with this and want to forget what happened so that they can resume their lives,” said another Yazidi woman who now works at a hair salon in the refugee camp. “Here, we do it by working, studying, and planning for the future.”
While many of these women still require psychological rehabilitation to help heal the wounds of the war, the positive attitude and outlook that Yazidis hold is one that must be respected and encouraged to strive for and facilitate a brighter future for their community and Iraq as a whole.