The Yazidis – or Yezidis – are a population historically located in present-day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Armenia and Georgia. This ethnic group has faced hardship since they were often persecuted for religious reasons. Their monotheistic religion, Yazidism or Sharfadin, is based on the belief that their one God has created the universe and seven Angels in whose hands it was entrusted. Worshipers of Islam tend to associate these Angels with Satan. The latest tragedy that has befallen them dates back to 2014 by the hand of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Genocide of the Yazidis
The genocide of the Yazidis by the ISIL was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2016. It started in August 2014, when ISIL fighters defeated the Kurds in Sinjar, a town in northern Iraq. This territory was home to many Yazidis who fled to the Sinjar Mountains. Here, they were surrounded by the ISIL militants and had to endure dehydration and starvation. According to the United Nations, in the following months around 5,000 Yazidis died.
The ISIL aim was to convert the Yazidis population. The latter had to choose between conversion and death. The Yazidis were send away from their ancestral territory in Northern Iraq. The men were killed while the women and children were abducted and forced into sexual slavery.
The Violence Against the Yazidis Women
The ISIL abducted between 4,500 and 7,000 women, claiming that they did it for religious reasons. In fact, their holy book instructs to kill the men and plunder the women and children. After being abducted, women were physically observed, to assess whether they were virgins or pregnant. The latter groups of women were forced into abortion. Older women were generally taken to the slave market, while younger girls were either raped or sold to fighters who married them. These marriages, however, were temporary since, after these girls had been raped, they were passed to other militants.
Many women, after experiencing this violence, were driven to suicide. Some women succeeded to escape. One of them is Nadia Murad Basee Taha who managed to escape after months of slavery. She later became a human rights activist and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.
As though everything that these women had endured were not enough, they had to face another hardship after being freed and allowed to return to their families. In fact, the leaders of Yazidism and the families of these women do not want to accept children fathered by ISIL men.