ISIS continues to target the Yazidi community in their campaign to “purify” Iraq.
Yazidis are an Iraqi religious minority that originate in Northern Iraq, predominately in the autonomous Kurdistan region as well as in the Nineveh Plane and Sinjar region of Ninevah Provence. Although some Yazidis speak Arabic, many speak Kurdish; and all Yazidis consider themselves a distinct minority.
Thousands of Yazidi men have been killed by ISIS in an attempt to diminish their population, and thousands of women and children have been abducted and forced into slavery. The Yazidi community says that ISIS is still holding more than 3,500 of their women and girls captive.
ISIS has implemented a program of systematic sex trafficking for abducted Yazidi girls. The organisation’s theology of rape has become deeply enshrined in their radical belief system. They first began kidnapping Yazidi women in August 2014, in Sinjar, Iraq. While the group at first tried to deny that they were sexually exploiting women from the Yazidi community, they finally acknowledged their sexual enslavement of Yazidi women in the October 2014 issue of their magazine Dabiq. ISIS ideologues offered justification for the enslavement of Yazidis by explaining how they consider slavery permissible under Islamic Law. The jihadists argue that capturing and raping Yazidi women is justified and not a sin because Yazidis do not believe in Islam. These ideologues further argue that it is their religious duty to kill or enslave members of the Yazidi community as a part of their jihad against their enemies.
Many survivors and escapees have recalled their traumatic experiences and the brutal nature of ISIS. Yazidis have spoken about being systematically raped, imprisoned and physically and emotionally abused by ISIS. However some women who have escaped after enduring sexual violence believe that their “honour” will be tarnished if they speak about what they have been through. Survivors face social stigma from within their own community when they return home. Many others in captivity have turned to suicide as a response to the constant sexual abuse by ISIS.
ISIS considers the continued existence of Yazidis incompatible with their goal of establishing an Islamic State and therefore have deliberately targeted Yazidis and used strategies that aim to erase the Yazidi culture, religion and bloodline. ISIS is aiming for the systemic destruction of the entire Yazidi population.
ISIS’s attacks on the Yazidi community amount to a genocide, however apart from UN expressions of “extreme concern,” very little has been done to protect and assist the Yazidi community.