This was a compelling read. It was disturbing and it gave me more compassion and understanding for the refugees from Syria and Iraq.
Farida Khalaf was a nineteen-year-old girl living with her family in the Yasidi village of Kocho in northern Iraq. August 15, 2014 was the day that her village was overcome by ISIS forces. Here is the sequence of events leading up to her ordeal.
- First ISIS told the villagers that if they would turn over all their guns then ISIS would leave them alone. So they did, but ISIS did not leave them alone.
- Next ISIS told them to bring all their money, valuables, jewelry, cell phones to the school house and turn them over and then they would leave them alone. So they did, but ISIS did not leave them alone.
- Then ISIS told them that if they would deny their Yasidi religion and become Muslims then they would leave them alone. They would not deny their religion.
- Then ISIS took the men and older boys away and shot and killed them.
- They took the women and children to a camp. Young boys underwent brainwashing to become soldiers.
- They took all the young women on a bus to a city in Syria to a slave market where they were sold as sex slaves.
Farida details her experience. She suffered privations, beatings, tortures and rapes. She had a number of different "owners." She attempted suicide at least three times. Finally a group of six girls were able to miraculously escape an ISIS military camp. She was reunited with her mother and siblings at a refugee camp. This is where Andrea C. Hoffmann, a journalist who specializes in the Middle East and the conditions of women in Muslim countries, met her and interviewed her. Farida and her friend Evin were taken to Germany and lived in a convent where the nuns were very kind to them and let them practice their Yasidi religion. Now Farida and her remaining family members are together in Germany. They have concluded there is no future for them in Iraq. Farida wants to go to college and become a math teacher.
This horror story is told with sensitivity and is not salacious or sensational. The values of virtue held by the young women are respected. Still, it will give you nightmares. Hopefully it will inform you and motivate you to find ways that you can help the world situation through political activity or compassionate service. -- JHD