World failing Yazidi women forced into sex slavery

Yazidi Kurdish women at a protest against Daesh in Dohuk, northern Iraq. Thousands of women and girls of the Yazidi faith were abducted, tortured and sexually abused by Daesh fighters who invaded their homeland in northwest Iraq, in 2014. (AP Photo)
Updated 06 June 2018

World failing Yazidi women forced into sex slavery

  • Many Yazidi women and girls have been brainwashed or killed in captivity, while those who have managed to escape after years of enslavement and rape are left struggling to survive without an income or identity papers.
  • Baroness Nicholson, founder and chair of the British-based AMAR Foundation which provides education and health care in the Middle East, said the world’s religions should urgently recognize the Yazidi faith.

PARIS: The world is failing Yazidi women forced into sex slavery by Daesh militants in Iraq and Syria, with 3,000 still unaccounted for, according to the head of a charity dedicated to helping survivors recover from their horrific experiences.
Murad Ismael said many Yazidi women and girls have been brainwashed or killed in captivity, while those who have managed to escape after years of enslavement and rape were left struggling to survive without an income or identity papers.
“Every inch of these women’s body and soul is broken,” said Ismael, executive director of Yazda.
“And yet the international system is failing to embrace them and help them return to normal life,” said Ismael ahead of the Foundation’s Trust Conference on modern slavery in Brussels on Wednesday.
“These girls, they just want to resume school, go back to normal. But they’re not given any income or support so many of them have to be a father and a mother to their siblings, in addition to being a survivor.”
The Yazidi, a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of ancient Middle Eastern religions, are regarded by Daesh as devil-worshippers.
Thousands of women and girls of the Yazidi faith were abducted, tortured and sexually abused by Daesh fighters who invaded their homeland in northwest Iraq, in 2014.
The militants were driven out a year ago, but most Yazidis have yet to return to their villages and nearly 3,000 women and children remain in captivity.
“We used to get over 100 rescued women and girls arriving to our office each month, but now we only see five or six,” said Ismael.
“The pace of rescues is slowing down because many of these women have already been killed or brainwashed by their captors.”
Manal, a young Yazidi woman who was kidnapped at the age of 17 by Daesh in 2014 and is now being supported by Yazda after being rescued, said her captors beat her until she was unconscious.
“When I woke up there were scars on my body and blood all over my clothes,” she said in Arabic through a translator.
“I tried to kill myself several times but I didn’t succeed. They didn’t care and raped me again and again.”
Now living with her family in a refugee camp in Qadiya, northern Iraq, she said she wanted to become a psychiatrist to help other survivors.
Baroness Nicholson, founder and chair of the British-based AMAR Foundation which provides education and health care in the Middle East, said the world’s religions should urgently recognize the Yazidi faith.
“Unless this is done, they will continue to be considered by some – quite wrongly — as devil worshippers, giving vile people the excuse they need to attack them,” she said by email.
Nicholson urged the international community to ensure the Yazidis could return home safely, and offer them asylum if they could not face doing so.
“The horrendous suffering of those women and girls so monstrously violated by Daesh should remain in the public consciousness forever,” she said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared victory over Daesh in December, five months after his forces recaptured the country’s second city Mosul in a protracted battle with the militants.
The group continues to carry out bombings, assassinations and ambushes in different areas of Iraq, and remains active in neighboring Syria.
“It’s incredible that there has been no justice, not a single trial” for the massacre and detention of 12,000 Yazidi people, Ismael said at the Trust Conference on Wednesday.
“Those (Yazidis) who survived have no hope to return to their homes, it’s all land mines and mass graves,” he added.


Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

Updated 34 min 54 sec ago

Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

  • Abdallah Chatila spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler
  • He said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market

JERUSALEM: wealthy Lebanese-Swiss businessman said Sunday he had bought Adolf Hitler’s top hat and other Nazi artifacts to give them to Jewish groups and prevent them falling into the hands of a resurgent far-right.
Abdallah Chatila said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market because of the rising anti-Semitism, populism and racism he was witnessing in Europe.
He spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler, including the collapsible top hat, in a November 20 sale at a Munich auction house, originally planning to burn them all.
But he then decided to give them to the Keren Hayesod association, an Israeli fundraising group, which has resolved to hand them to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center.
Chatila told a Jerusalem press conference it had been a “very easy” decision to purchase the items when he saw the “potentially lethal injustice that those artifacts would go to the wrong hands.”
“I felt I had no choice but to actually try to help the cause,” he added.
“What happened in the last five years in Europe showed us that anti-Semitism, that populism, that racism is going stronger and stronger, and we are here to fight it and show people we’re not scared.
“Today — with the fake news, with the media, with the power that people could have with the Internet, with social media — somebody else could use that small window” of time to manipulate the public, he said.
He said he had worried the Nazi-era artifacts could be used by neo-Nazi groups or those seeking to stoke anti-Semitism and racism in Europe.
“That’s why I felt I had to do it,” he said of his purchase.
The items, still in Munich, are to be eventually delivered to Yad Vashem, where they will be part of a collection of Nazi artifacts crucial to countering Holocaust denial, but not be put on regular display, said Avner Shalev, the institute’s director.
Chatila also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and visited Yad Vashem.
Chatila was born in Beirut into a family of Christian jewellers and moved to Switzerland at the age of two.
Now among Switzerland’s richest 300 people, he supports charities and causes, including many relating to Lebanon and Syrian refugees.
The auction was brought to Chatila’s attention by the European Jewish Association, which has sought to sway public opinion against the trade in Nazi memorabilia.
Rabbi Mehachem Margolin, head of the association, said Chatila’s surprise act had raised attention to such auctions.
He said it was a powerful statement against racism and xenophobia, especially coming from a non-Jew of Lebanese origin.
Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war and Lebanese people are banned from communication with Israelis.
“There is no question that a message that comes from you is 10 times, or 100 times stronger than a message that comes from us,” Margolin told Chatila.
The message was not only about solidarity among people, but also “how one person can make such a huge change,” Margolin said.
“There’s a place for optimism.”