By Saagar Enjeti
Islamic State extremists reportedly burned 19 young Yazidi girls alive in iron cages June 3 for refusing to be sex slaves, according to eyewitness accounts obtained by ARA News in the Iraqi occupied city of Mosul. ARA News is a Kurdish news organization covering the Syrian conflict.
The horrific act reportedly occurred in the center of the town in front of hundreds of onlookers as a message to the local Iraqi population. “Nobody could do anything to save them,” an eyewitness reportedly told ARA News.
Yazidi’s are a small Kurdish minority within Iraq whose religion closely resembles Zoroastrianism. Yazidi’s have historic ties with Christianity and recognize Jesus as one of their great prophets. Their non-Islamic faith, which is atypical in the region, have made them targets to ISIS for massacre and enslavement.
In 2014, ISIS captured the historic Iraqi Yazidi territory of Mount Sinjar and took nearly 5000 Yazidi women captive. ISIS routinely justifies the systematic rape and enslavement of Yazidi women with a narrow and highly selective reading of specific passages of the Quran. The United Nations estimates approximately 3000 Yazidi women remain enslaved by ISIS.
ISIS routinely rapes young girls as young as 12 often buying and selling women across Syria and Iraq. The religious justification of rape is a powerful recruiting tool for ISIS as it provides sexual loophole to men from deeply religious communities where casual sex is forbidden.
“The longer they are held by ISIS, the more horrific life becomes for Yezidi women, bought and sold, brutally raped, their children torn from them,” Sky Wheeler of Human Rights Watch told ARA News. Human Rights Watch further elaborated that ISIS’s execution and enslavement of Yazidi’s would constitute genocide under the laws of armed conflict.
A twelve year old Yazidi girl held by ISIS told the New York Times she pleaded with her captor to stop raping her. In response in he told her “that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God.”
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