Matthew Barber, who spent several months in northern Iraq earlier this year to carry out Ph.D. research and learn Kurdish, witnessed the flight of residents from the Islamic State’s offensive. Among the displaced were members of the Yazidi faith, whose villages and towns like Sinjar were overrun by the jihadists.
Barber, witnessing the refugee crisis on Mount Sinjar, began to hear stories of the persecution of the Yazidis, including the enslavement of their women, by the Islamic State.
He speaks to Joshua Landis about the experience, describing the killing, capture, enslavement, and seizure of the wealth and property of Yezidis:
Iraq Feature: “Islamic State Forces Young Yezidi Women, Teenage Girls to Marry Its Fighters”
Iraq Feature: Islamic State Proclaims “We Enslave and Sell Yazidi Women and Children”
Iraq Video: Islamic State Fighters Laugh Over Enslavement and Selling of Women — “Where is My Yezidi Girl?”
Writing for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Joanna Paraszczuk summarizes the latest situation. She cites the call of Khalida Khalid, a Yazidi adviser to the Speaker of Parliament in Iraqi Kurdistan, for the protection of Yazidi women who have escaped enslavement.
The Kurdish Parliament is discussing laws to meet the situation of the women, including legal abortions for rape victims.
A Yazidi tribal leader said that, while women raped by jihadists will be accepted by the community, those who are pregnant will be ostracized.
Vian Dakhil, the only Yazdi MP in Iraq’s Parliament, said the US should work to help release 5,000 Yazidi girls and women who remain enslaved. She said that she had been in touch with several of the captives, who complained of daily torture and rape.
In October, Human Rights Watch reported on the enslavement and sale of women by the Islamic State. The claims were supported the jihadists’ own publicity, including the Islamic State’s magazine and a video of fighters discussing their ownership of the women.