Fighting back

Yazidi women buck norms, train to become soldiers with PKK

A female fighter stands outside a base in Sinjar, March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

The Yazidi are a Kurdish religious community which has had its members massacred and kidnapped for being “devil worshippers” by ISIS, but Yazidi women are fighting back by seeking training from veteran fighters linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) — a left-wing Kurdish militant organization considered a terrorist group by the US — and enrolling in a new offshoot of the party called the Sinjar Resistance Units. Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan believes that women can be soldiers, and though the Yazidi are a conservative patriarchal society and many female recruits are runaways, at least some Yazidi families are embracing a cultural shift and supporting their daughters in their attempt to protect the Yazidi people. “For more than 5,000 years, women have been culturally under the control of their families,” says Berivan, a 17-year-old trainee. “Everyone here is at the same level.”

Read the full story at The Christian Science Monitor.

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