One of them at the clinic last week is named Sahira (Mr. Kizilhan asked that I use only the first names of his patients). She pulls out her smartphone and scrolls through photos until she finds the right one. It shows a smiling baby girl in polka-dot pajamas playing with a big pink ball. When ISIS in August 2014 overran the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar, the 26-year-old Sahira and her three children, including Lozin, the 2-year-old in the photograph, were enslaved and transferred to the caliphate’s capital in Raqqa, Syria.
There, she says, they became the property of an ISIS commander named Abu Jihad, who was bent on Arabizing and Islamizing Sahira’s children. (The Yazidis are a Kurdish minority whose faith blends elements of Christianity and Islam with the region’s pre-Islamic religions.) After Lozin repeatedly failed to say Islamic prayers correctly, Abu Ji-had locked the toddler inside a small box in the scorching heat. No one was allowed near the box for seven days.
After the box was finally unlocked, her mother says, Lozin was probably already close to death, but then the ISIS commanner punched her in the small of her back, finishing off the baby before handing her over. Sahira says that when she protested, Abu Jihad lifted her daughter’s body high above his head and dropped her on the floor, and said: “The Yazidis are not believers. We can do anything we want with you.”
Sahira’s ordeal wasn’t over. For months she had resisted Abu Jihad’s attempts to rape her—until he raised the stakes by tying her 4-year-old son to a car and threatening to drag him to his death. She relented, and endured what followed. Eventually, Sahira’s family secured her and her two surviving children’s release by buying them back from ISIS.
Helping the Escaped Slaves of ISIS, At this clinic in Iraq’s Kurdish north, women who have suffered unspeakable cruelty come for help.
Wall Street Journal 11-24-15
Categories: Observations on life