ISTANBUL (dpa) – Women from the Yezidi faith taken captive by Islamic State forces are killing themselves rather than be forced into marrying members of the militant group, Amnesty International said Tuesday in a new report.
Thousands of Yezidi men, women and children were captured in June when the extremist group swept through northern Iraq.
Many of the men were reportedly slain or forced to convert to Islam.
The women were often given to fighters as trophies or sold off as sex slaves, Amnesty said in the report Escape from Hell.
Some 300 women and children have managed to escape the Islamic State camps, and about 40 gave interviews to Amnesty for the report.
Jilan was 19 when she was captured this year by the militants. Her family later learned she killed herself.
“We were 21 girls in one room, two of them were very young, 10-12 years. One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes,” 20-year-old Luna was quoted as saying.
“Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful. I think she knew that she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself,” said Luna, who escaped.
Others describe beatings, abuse, torture and threats, as well as outright rape.
Some girls were given to men who already had wives, including foreign fighters from Western countries who have joined Islamic State forces.
Survivors recounted how some Iraqi women, first wives of the militants, sympathised with the Yezidi girls but were often powerless to intervene. Some however facilitated escapes.
“She was more than a mother to us. I could never forget this woman, she saved our lives,” one of the girls said about a local woman who took risks to help her flee.
The Islamic State group does not view Yezidis, unlike Jews and Christians, as people with rights. The group instead considers them devil-worshippers, allowing its fighters to kill, abuse and enslave them. An edition of Islamic State’s in-house magazine, Dabiq, recently focused on slavery, extolling its virtues.
Germany’s Overseas Development Minister Gerd Mueller this week said Berlin is looking to set up a crisis centre for women who were abused by Islamic State militants, but the programme would only serve 100 people.
On Monday, fighting between Islamic State militants and the Iraqi Army around Baquba, 60 kilometres north of Baghdad, left at least 33 people dead.
The militants attacked government forces in several sites, an Iraqi security office told dpa.
Among the dead were 19 government troops and local militia volunteers, while Iraqi Air Force strikes against Islamic State forces around Baquba killed at least 14 militants.
European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini met Monday in Baghdad with Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari.
In a joint press conference, she said that the “best possible way” to face the Islamic State threat was “by showing that, in a country as complicated and beautiful as this one, it is possible to live together in unity and in respect of all differences, but together.”
Mogherini told al-Jafaari that the EU intends “to fully play its role” in Iraq facing both the militant threat and other problems.