As the Islamic State continues its genocide of Yazidis and Christians in Syria and Iraq, a detailed report by the U.N.’s Human Rights Council reveals that Yazidi mothers and their children are brutally persecuted – mothers sold and re-sold as sex slaves, children murdered, and children traumatized from being forced to listen behind locked doors as their mothers are raped and beaten.
One Yazidi woman who was sold seven times to ISIS fighters said, “When he would force me into a room with him, I could hear my children screaming and crying outside the door. Once he became very angry. He beat and threatened to kill them. He forced two of them to stand outside barefoot in the snow until he finished with me.”
An ISIS fighter killed the children of a Yazidi woman who was sold three times as a sex slave. When she asked him, “What did you do to them?” he beat her and said, “They are kuffar [non-Muslim] children. It is good they are dead. Why are you crying for them?”
The U.N. report from June, They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis, explains the Islamic State’s attacks on Yazidi villages in Sinjar in August 2014 and the subsequent (and ongoing) genocidal actions taken by ISIS to destroy the Yazidi people.
The report is based on 45 interviews with survivors, religious leaders, doctors and journalists. An estimated 5,000 Yazidis have been killed, so far, by the Islamic State. “ISIS has sought to destroy the Yazidis through killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm,” states the report.
“The genocide of the Yazidis is ongoing,” says the U.N. “Over 3,200 Yazidi women and children are still held by ISIS. Most are in Syria where Yazidi females continue to be sexually enslaved and Yazidi boys, indoctrinated, trained and used in hostilities. Thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing.”
A section in the U.N. report on ISIS’s treatment of young children held with their mothers details the brutality of ISIS and the horrific trauma suffered by Yazidi women and their children.
Yazidi mothers and their children – boys under 7 and girls under 9 – are sold as a package by ISIS, according to the report. “Hundreds of Yazidi children continue to be transferred around ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria as their mothers are sold and re-sold.”
“Once a Yazidi girl reaches the age of nine, ISIS takes the girl from her mother and sells her as a slave,” states the report. “When a Yazidi boy reaches seven years of age, he too is taken from his mother and sent to an ISIS training camp and from there on to battle. Younger siblings witness these separations, which are almost always accompanied by ISIS fighters beating their mother as she tries to keep hold of her older children.”
“ISIS fighters often target younger Yazidi children as a means of punishing their mothers,” reads the report. “In one case, an ISIS fighter killed several children after their mother failed in her escape attempt. He beat her for crying over the death of ‘kuffar children’ before raping her.”
In another case from 2015, an ISIS fighter from Libya bought a Yazidi woman and her children, including a girl aged seven. He kept them in his house in Dayr Az-Zayr.
“After loaning the mother to be raped by another ISIS fighter for one night, the Libyan fighter took the 7-year-old girl into a room, locking it behind him,” reported the U.N. “He told her mother, who was screaming at the door, that he wanted to check whether the 7-year-old ‘was ready to be married.’”
Many of the women interviewed said they could hear their children “screaming and crying” outside the door while ISIS fighters raped them in a locked room, said the U.N.’s Human Rights Council.
On woman said her youngest son “would scream the loudest when” the Tunisian fighter-owner “locked the children in a room” and then took her to another room to rape her, reads the report.
ISIS fighters and their family members often beat Yazidi children if they made too much noise, according to the report. In Al-Bab, for instance, a Turkish ISIS member “beat the woman’s 7-year-old daughter because she was crying because she was hungry. In some cases, the wives and children of the ISIS fighter would also beat Yazidi children,” stated the report.
Along with the beatings and rapes, ISIS does not provide its family slaves with enough food and water, said the U.N., and in the winter the Yazidi slaves have to sleep in unheated rooms.
Also, “Some ISIS fighters, holding Yazidi women and children inside Syria, forced the children to say the name of the devil aloud, an impermissible act in the Yazidi religion,” reported the U.N.
In its conclusion of the section on Yazidi mothers and their children, the Human Rights Council said, “The violations specifically suffered by Yazidi children who were held and sold with their mothers are not often recognized. Consequently there is limited psychosocial support available that is directly targeted at the needs of these children.
“Many Yazidi families, themselves direct victims of ISIS violations, are struggling to understand and to cope with the behavior of their severely traumatized children.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. and British governments officially declared that ISIS’s actions constitute genocide.
The full report by the U.N. Human Rights Council, They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis, can be read here.