Dear readers, I have wanted to cover the topic of exploitation within the Kurdish Yezidi community for a while now but I must be quit honest it was extremely difficult to put my feelings in words. I wanted to make sure that I give it all I have to get the message across and I did not want to rush it. I really wanted to make sure that it was given the proper attention it deserved.
The sexual exploitation of women happens everywhere in our society. The control and abuse of women and girl’s sexually in the Yezidi community has impacted families greatly. With the rise of ISIS Islamic State (Da’esh) in the Kurdish regions, many young Yezidi girls’ lives have changed forever. The control and abuse of these young girls and women sexually, just reminds us that the power play in society. This power control is about men holding important roles in making decisions in all settings such as religious institutions, politics and in this case, socially. In the case of Yezidi females who have been captured and taken by Da’esh, the reason behind what transpired is closely related to the religious ideologies of the men at question and to note, those traits in particular, are more like a paradigm as they should only be believed to serve the interests of men and empower them to dictate over the opposite sex. The main focus of this group is to control female sexuality and regulate all sexual activity of the female victims while violating them in all aspects of their lives so as to taint them and bring dishonour to the family. Surely, this is the case for hundreds of Yezidi females who have been abducted by this group. Ultimately, the control and abuse of these Yezidi Kurds is exploitation without a doubt and they are used for men’s sexual gratification and profit. Sexual exploitation takes many forms; rape, bride trafficking and prostitution, among other things.
As I am writing this article, I am simultaneously thinking about what my professors lectured about with regards to colonialism and men’s tools to control an area or group of people. It is often said that men use repression and exploitation of women and girls to get their message across and political power preserved. Although male power over women is rooted deep in societies all over the world and I have studied throughout my education as mostly something of the past, we are taught that it is woven into our system in all aspects of life and we can see it everywhere around us whether it is at work, home or in the public. I never expected it to be a reality in the course of the twenty-first century. How did we allow this to happen? What did these females do to deserve what happened and is still happening to them?
The topic of equality has not always played in favour of women. It is almost seen as human nature for females to be treated as less than men and over time, women have been working hard to create equality with their male counterparts. As most western countries have been successful in this area, the middle struggles with the issues of women equality. With the case of ISIS, we have seen first hand the respect that the group have for women. It is not pleasant and the victims have experienced the most unpleasant things that they could ever imagine. What for? Could it be for the control and political power of a group that believes they will create an Islamic state and will destroy all that come in place? What better ways to do that than to target the vulnerable ones are there? By being violent to women, this creates a fear for the society and it used as a way to convey the message that women are not valued and it is an expression of gender inequality. It is unfortunate that the women have to be the ones suffering in this war of ISIS group as opposed to everyone else. In this sector, Da’esh proves to be dominant and they will serve their own needs at the cost of destruction of other families.
The harassment and trafficking of Kurdish Yezidi women is an embarrassment to western powers. How can the world let it happen? How can we allow hundreds and hundreds of Yezidi women be abducted and sold into slavery. How can we allow history to repeat itself, after all, it is modern day slavery? What makes me sick to my stomach is that this group truly believes that they have the right to control women and to have sex with them whenever they wish and to solely use them for their own purpose. Since the beginning of this crisis, I have been following the stories of many young Yezidi women who have suffered under the control of ISIS and I have watched interviews of females of have escaped and I must say that as a woman, a Kurdish woman, I could really feel the pain of the women. I truly was in shock and angry that they had to experience what they did. As ISIS held slave markets to sell the women and justifying it was even worse. How can one justify that? When a video of ISIS discussing the prices of captured Yezidi women during a “slave market day” in Mosul, Iraq came out, it shocked the world. The men were speaking about paying more for a blued eyed girl and another wanted a 15 year old Kurdish girl with green eyes. It was extremely disturbing to watch the video as the camera man explains the situation and what is going on without hesitation and as if it is a normal thing to do. He says that its a slave market day and the fighters will receive their share. They disregard the worth of a women and what I do not understand is do they men not have sisters, mothers? What if the tables were turned, would they accept. Why destroy another’s family? The way they treat Kurdish Yezidi women, no one in their right mind deem that acceptable but this uneducated group thinks its okay to do.
I want to incorporate the video here, that way you as the reader can see with your own eyes the event that took place and be the judge of the situation and I want to see whether you deem it right or wrong. I must warn you, it is not your regular youtube video.
Not only have the Yezidi women have been trafficked as sex slaves, forced into marriage and imprisoned, they have been damaged internally. Those who had a chance committed suicide just so that they do not continue being tortured in the hands of ISIS. It has been reported by survivors many Yezidis killed themselves because they felt that their “honour” and their families honour has been tarnished and they are a disgrace for the community. The trauma of those who survived is deep psychologically and physically as many have been treated inhumanly. I have not come to this conclusion on my own. It is through all the interviews I have watched and read on those Yezidi Kurds who have escaped the hands of ISIS. They explain the way they were treated and how other young girls were treated by the group. I came across shocking information that broke my heart. Most of them tried to committed suicide in the way they knew only to escape the evilness of this black souled group.
So now what? Where do we go from here?
Personally, I believe that the Kurdish Regional government and all humanitarian organizations who are involved in the region need to work extra hard to find and bring those girls who are still in the hands of ISIS back home. As per those who escaped, there needs to be a program which will work particularly with each individual. A group of professionals should work on each individual’s case and help with integrating the displaced victims back into their families and community. They need to understand that what happened to them is not their fault and they could not control the situation at hand. It is really important that survivors understand that what happened to them was not something they could control. It is a matter of accepting the self and moving forward. I am not sure if there is any right now in the region because I have not come across it in my readings. But if there is, that is great.