Kidnapped by Isis at 15: ‘I never thought I’d see the day when I was free’

Photo credit: Amar International Charitable Foundation

By Holly Young

“It was a lovely life. I had a big family and there was always a lot of laughter,” says 16-year-old Nihad Alawsi, speaking about her Yazidi community in northern Iraq. “I’m one of 18 siblings, but I was always my dad’s favourite.” She remembers the weddings, when the girls would get their hair and make-up done, and the days spent as a little girl drawing pictures of the flowers breaking through the Iraqi landscape.

Then came the day that cut short her childhood. Speaking via a translator, Nihad’s breathing quickens as she describes “that black morning” when 28 members of her family and others in her village fell into the hands of Isis. At 15, Nihad became one of the thousands of victims in the largest single mass kidnap of women and girls this century.

“They killed men,” says Nihad. “They didn’t want the older women so they either killed them on the spot or chased them out of their homes. They kidnapped us girls, raped us, and took our babies.” The Yazidi community has been specifically targeted by Isis. In 2014 an estimated 5,000 were taken; 3,500 are thought to be still missing.

Nihad was sold as a sex slave to an Isis fighter. “I was raped and beaten continuously for two weeks,” she says describing the beginning of her 15 months in captivity. “They took us first to Syria and then back to Mosul in Iraq.” She met many other Yazidi girls along the way who spoke of the relentless forced movement, as they were endlessly sold and resold, back and forth between Iraq and Syria. Sometimes they were sent as “gifts”: “The men think it is fun to exchange women. One girl I met had been resold 15 times.”

full story at The Richard Dawking Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

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