Those who should speak out have not done soby Letta Tayler / November 13, 2014 / Leave a comment
Seve, a 19-year-old Yazidi woman, has vivid memories of the Islamic State fighter who locked her in his house and tried to rape her after she was kidnapped by IS in August. “He told me his name was Zaid,” Seve said, covering part of her face with her headscarf. “He tried to take me by force.” When Seve fought back, he told her: “I will kill you.”
Seve’s story raises the question of what Muslim religious leaders in the United Kingdom, a recruiting ground for IS, could do to condemn sexual abuse by the extremist group. IS endorsed sexual slavery on 11th October in its online English-language magazine Dabiq, which targets potential recruits in countries such as the UK, the US and Australia. The article describes the Yazidis, a religious minority, as “infidels.”
“Taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of sharia [Islamic law],” the article says. It brands those who question this as “weak-minded and weak-hearted,” and “apostatising from Islam.”
The evidence continues to grow that IS practices sexual slavery. I met Seve (not her real name) at a shelter near Duhok, in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. She showed me a snapshot of her wedding day two years earlier. She wore a white dress and tiara, and leaned close to her husband, tall and slim in a blazer, his hair carefully curled over his forehead. She kissed the photo, then placed it face down beside her and began to cry.
IS shot dead Seve’s husband in front of her before abducting her from her hometown near Sinjar, a Yazidi community in northwest Iraq. The group then imprisoned her with around 2,000 other Yazidi women and girls in a vast hall in the northern city of Mosul. There, she said, she was “married” to Zaid in a group “wedding” with dozens of other captives. “They were tossing sweets at us and taking photos and videos,” Seve said. “The fighters were so happy; they were firing shots in the air.” Several days after the mass marriage ceremony, Seve escaped by fleeing into the night while Zaid slept.
For more than two months after IS’s August rampage through Yazidi communities in northwest Iraq, sceptics, including many Iraqis I interviewed, dismissed accounts such as Seve’s as Shia fabrications to help then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cling to power. Maliki’s government was Shia while IS is Sunni. There…