ISIS still holds nearly 2,000 Iraqi women as slaves, nearly all of them Yazidis, according to a new United Nations report. Almost two years after ISIS first took over the northern Iraqi district of Sinjar, the 300,000 people who live there, mostly Yazidis, remain displaced. At least 200,000 of the Sinjar residents fled north to Kurdistan, and approximately 55,000 others were surrounded by ISIS forces on Mt. Sinjar in August of 2014. With temperatures reaching in excess of 100 degrees, dozens died before U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish Peshmerga opened a path of escape for the civilians.
The U.N. now estimates that between 2,500 and 5,500 Yazidis were killed during ISIS’s invasion and occupation of the area. Around 6,300 Yazidis — including 3,537 women — were also abducted by the terror group. Captured men were frequently forced to convert to Islam or subjected to slaughter. “In one instance,” the report noted, “up to 600 men were reportedly killed in tel Afar District.” The U.N. reported that as of May 2016, roughly 3,800 Yazidis remain in captivity, including 1,935 women.
Women captured by the group said that ISIS militants raped them, sold them multiple times, and “snatched their young children and babies from them.” In one case, the report said, “one woman told how she was sold to a 26-year-old Syrian ISIS member who raped her regularly for at least 15 days, threatening to kill her daughters if she did not submit.”
Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, said that the violations and abuses found to have been committed by ISIS may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. “Thousands of men, women and children have been killed or are missing, or remain in captivity where they are subjected to unspeakable sexual and physical abuse,” said Kubis. “Faced with such evidence, it is of paramount importance that the perpetrators of these heinous acts are fully and properly held to account.”
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