Teenage Yazidi Girl Speaks to the Armenian Weekly about Life as ISIS Slave
Special for the Armenian Weekly
PARIS, France (A.W.)—Jinan is an 18-year-old Yazidi woman. She is married to Walid, 22. For two weeks now, her name has been known in France as the girl who decided to testify against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
On Aug. 3, 2014, ISIS attacked Yazidi villages in Northern Iraq. Jinan and her family tried to escape to the Sinjar Mountain. “I had a simple and normal life in a Yazidi village not too far from the Sinjar Mountain. I could not imagine that genocide would kill half my people,” she told the Armenian Weekly.
A day after escaping to the mountain without food and water in the scorching heat, Jinan’s step-father received a phone call: The Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party (PKK) had opened the road. “When we arrived on the road, there were around 50 cars with Yazidi families, and 4 ISIS cars attacked us,” Jinan remembers. People who tried to escape were arrested, but ISIS knew they could not arrest everyone, as there were not enough of them. They called other fighters. Men and women were separated, and until now, Jinan says, “we still don’t know what happened to the men.”
Sale on the Slave Market
Jinan was moved around a few locations before being bought. “First, they took us to the jail of Badoush in Mosul. We spent a week here and we went to Tall Afar, in a school where they separated old women from young women,” she said with a trembling voice. After two days, members of ISIS from Iraq as well as Saudi Arabia came to buy the girls. “That one has big breasts,” one of them said. “But I want a Yazidi with blue eyes and pale skin. I am willing to pay the price.” Dozens of women were collected there. Fighters circulated among them. They joked with fat laughter and pinched their buttocks. Jinan heard one of the traders say, “I will trade the brunette for your Beretta pistol. If you prefer to pay cash, it is $150. You can also pay in Iraqi dinars.”
Jinan was bought by two men: Abou Omar and Abou Anas. One of them is a former policeman, and the other an imam. Each group of girls sold is sent to a different place. But at the time, Jinan was sick. She spent a week in a hospital with five other girls that were bought by the same men. Afterwards, Abou Omar and Abou Anas take them to a Yazidi village. “We spent three months in this house. We were tortured, each time we refused to convert to Islam. They chained us under the sun of Hell all day long. When the day was over, they gave us water… We could see dead mice on the water’s surface. We had to drink it. No choice. They sometimes used electricity to torture us.” ISIS sometimes used the girls as maids: “We had to clean their clothes and cook for around 30-40 people every day.”
‘People here, in France and Europe, think the danger is far away. You are not far from the danger. I lived with these men. They say they will occupy the whole world and that only ISIS should exist on earth. It is necessary to be careful and not to wait to be their slaves to fight them.’
The Big Escape
One day, Abou Omar and Abou Anas had gone to combat. Jinan tells the story of this night with a shaking voice, but with determination and a little pride. “They came back home after their day of fighting. They were really tired. They had dinner and went to bed. With the other girls, we waited until midnight, and made sure they were fast asleep.” Jinan and the five other girls then took their shoes off—“to be quiet”—and stole one of the mobile phones from the house. They opened the window, and got out of the house. “We called a Yazidi fighter. He was our guide on the road. We walked for maybe five hours until we arrived at the Sinjar Mountain,” she said. But the Yazidis feared this was a trap from ISIS—ISIS fighters sometimes disguised themselves as women to attack. The day before, two Yazidi women were sent to the Sinjar Mountain to distract fighters while ISIS attacked. The Yazidi fighters had to make sure the girls were not a diversion: “They asked us to stay at around 65 feet from each other. And then they asked us to come closer one by one.”
Jinan chose to testify after meeting with Thierry Oberlé, a French international reporter who is the co-author of the book, Jinan, Slave of Daesh (Jinan, Esclave de Daech). She would not have it any other way: “I am not afraid. My testimony is my weapon against ISIS. I want to say the truth to everyone. People here, in France and Europe, think the danger is far away. You are not far from the danger. I lived with these men. They say they will occupy the whole world and that only ISIS should exist on earth. It is necessary to be careful and not to wait to be their slaves to fight them.”
Jinan was one of thousands of women who were sold, raped, and tortured by ISIS every day. After promoting the book, she wants to go back with her husband to the Yazidi refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.