Women and girls from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group have committed suicide or tried to, rights group Amnesty International said.
The London-based rights group said on Tuesday, women faced torture, rape, forced marriage and were “sold” or given as “gifts” to ISIL fighters or their supporters in Iraq and Syria.
Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in ISIL captivity
“Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in ISIL captivity,” Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, Donatella Rovera, said in a statement.
“Many of those held as sexual slaves are children, girls aged 14, 15 or even younger,” Rovera added.
Based on interviews with over 40 former captives, the Amnesty report , Yezidi women and girls face harrowing sexual violence , said fearful of rape, some of the women had tried to kill themselves.
A 19-year-old named Jilan committed suicide out of fear she would be raped, Amnesty quoted her brother as saying.
A girl who was held with her but later escaped confirmed the account, saying: “One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes. Jilan killed herself in the bathroom.”
“She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful; I think she knew she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself.”
Wafa, a former captive told Amnesty how she and her sister attempted to end their lives after their captor threatened them with forced marriage.
“We tied the scarves around our necks and pulled away from each other as hard as we could, until I fainted… I could not speak for several days after that” Wafa said.
Amnesty also recounted the story of 16-year-old Randa, who was abducted with her family and raped by a man twice her age.
“It is so painful what they did to me and to my family. Da’esh (ISIL) has ruined our lives… What will happen to my family? I don’t know if I will ever see them again,” Randa said.
In early August, hundreds of Yazidi women and girls were captured by ISIL after they overran their hometown of Sinjar . Hundreds were killed in the attack, and tens of thousands were either stranded in nearby Mount Sinjar or fled to Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq.
The Yazidis are a centuries-old religious minority based in northern Iraq and Syria that follow a religion that predates Islam and Christianity but shares elements with Abrahamic religions.
They have suffered religious persecution for generations because of their beliefs, and have been accused of devil-worship, an accusation they deny.