Mission NOT Accomplished: Rescue the Yazidi Women

Osamah Golpy

By Osamah Golpy:

Two major events coincided on June 10, 2014: the Islamic State (IS) overran Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq; and the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict took place in London, co-chaired by William Hague, the former UK Foreign Secretary, and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Almost two months later, IS led a brutal “die or convert” campaign against the Kurdish-speaking Yezidi minority, forcing an estimated 50,000 Yezidis to flee and become stranded on Mount Shingal. It seems thirst, starvation, and heat was not enough suffering for the Yezidi women, since many also had to go through the traumatic experience of rape and sexual violence; even those lucky enough to escape this ordeal still had to experience the fear of falling victim to such unspeakable crimes.

Thousands of Yezidi women and girls have been kidnapped by the Islamic State. They are thought to have been enslaved and repeatedly sexually abused by IS fighters; while others, only after being raped, escaped to safety.

Rape, under international law, is a weapon of war, used to humiliate, punish, control, inflict fear and displace women and their communities. Few weapons can damage women so heavily and for so long, in some cases for a life-time. Health and mental problems aside, the stigma and shame can be lethal.

“We must send a message around the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence, that the shame is on the aggressor.” Jolie declared at the Summit.

An eye witness who survived the Mount Shingal genocide said, “a Yezidi woman, who was crying and beating herself on the head, came and asked us [the people on the mountain] to kill her, she said she was raped not by one, but tens of IS fighters.”

Nobody killed her, the witness said, but people protected her with respect.

Unfortunately, reports of rape victims committing suicide outnumber this incident—some committed suicide even before being raped because they knew what would happen to them moments after being captured and, more importantly, long after the war is over.

Vian Dakhil, a Yezidi Iraqi MP said, in an impassioned plea on August 5, “Mr. Speaker, our women are being taken as slaves and sold in the slave market.” On August 7, President Obama said in response: “One Iraqi in the area cried to the world, ‘There is no one coming to help.’ Well today, America is coming to help.” No doubt the help proved vital to help save lives on the mountain and beyond.

However, there are still thousands of Yezidi women and girls—to use Obama’s description—enslaved by IS. Despite the airstrikes and the humanitarian aid, if the US, Kurdish forces and the allies fall short of making every effort they can and should to save them, then the mission is certainly not accomplished. Iraq is now facing Boko Haram on its soil, although more savage and less concerned about the crimes of war.

While there are hundreds of thousands of Yezidis desperately in need of food, water, hygiene and importantly protection, there are as well those who went through sexual violence and need immediate physical and psychological support; there are those whose daughter, sister and mother lost their freedom to the slave-masters of today—in the twenty-first century, as Dakhil said in the Iraqi parliament.

Osamah M. Hama Husen: Local Coordinator, Fida International, E-mail: Osamagolpy@yahoo.com

One Response to Mission NOT Accomplished: Rescue the Yazidi Women
  1. KIM
    August 30, 2014 | 13:50

    It is imperative for the US administration to establish a permanent military base in South Kurdistan in order to curb Genocides, Terrorism and Disorder in the entire region. It should only be for humanitarian propose (Advise & Assist. Nations and Governments in the ME should realize that they must themselves get directly involved and be able to resolve their own internal problems.

    Kurds should not simply wait and call for US help for every crisis.

    Dispatch a special Peshmarga Forces Unit to rescue the Yezedis and Christian Women’s held captive by IS.

    Peshmargas should prove to the world that they are a professional, well-equipped and well-trained force capable not to only defend Kurdistan but also extend protection to all deserving minorities beyond its borderlines.

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