“Why did you flee? Are you afraid that we will kill you? I replied that I preferred to die.”

These were the heart-breaking words of an ISIS woman slave who was ruthlessly tortured after attempts to escape from her captives.

August 2014, an estimated 2,000 to 5,000, if not more Yazidi women and young girls in Sinjar were kidnapped and held captive by ISIS militants. At the end of 2014 ISIS provided the publication of a pamphlet showcasing the rules and justifications of the shocking treatment of women slaves. The non-Muslim women and girls who refused to convert to Islam became the victim of rape, forced marriage, sexual slavery and unrestrained mental and physical torture. The pamphlet, which had been published on a pro-ISIS twitter account has been generally considered authentic according The Human Rights Watch.

(The full version of the pamphlet is available on the The Middle East Media Research Institute website)

These women slaves have in majority been Arab Christians and Yazidis who are commonly referred to as “devil worshipers.” Some of the courageous women who had managed to escape have publicly although anonymously shared their distressing experiences under the rule of ISIS. Former Yazidi captive, Nadia Murad is one of the few women who has spoken out without anonymity. Murad visited Egypt to speak out about her life changing experiences after escaping from the rule of ISIS.  According to The independent Nadia gave a speech at Cairo University recalling “ISIS militants used to force captives to pray and then rape us […] we were not worth the value of animals. They raped girls in groups. They did what a mind could not imagine,” she also added that after a failed attempt to escape she was severely beaten and gang raped as punishment “they continued to commit crimes to my body until I became unconscious.” The justification of these acts stems from the ISIS belief that non-Muslim women must be punished through the ISIS extremist interpretation of the Sharia law.

Kurdish Photo journalist Seivan Salim, who had met the women that had escaped from the hands of ISIS militants has provided her account of the stories she had heard to National Geographic. She quoted the experiences of the women “They took me back to my captor’s house, where he pushed me inside a room, closed the door and started to whip me. After that he hit me with a cable and then fastened my legs and hung me by the legs to the fan on the ceiling and then started to hit me again. He took me down and told me my punishment would continue for three days and I would have nothing to eat or drink.”

This is just a small look into the  lives of ISIS women slaves – the victims of unspeakable cruelty. There are many more unheard stories, some have managed to escape yet there are thousands still suffering under the rule of the self-proclaimed Islamic state.

Unzela Anna Khan, Correspondent (Our World)