Two sisters captured by ISIS resort to strangling one another to avoid a life of sex slavery.

Amnesty International says “possibly thousands” of women and children have been abducted since the Islamic State took control of northern Iraq in June.



TRIGGER WARNING: This article deals with accounts of sexual assault, violence and suicide. It may be distressing for some trauma survivors.

Imagine being held captive by a powerful terrorist notorious for their sexual abuse of women and young girls.

Lying awake at night, knowing your fate was to be sold or forced into marriage with an older fighter for the militant group.

Being so terrified, as you lay waiting in captivity, that you begged the woman next to you to take your life.

That’s the reality for two sisters from Iraq, who tried to strangle each other to death when they realised they were going to be sold as wives to Islamic State fighters.

Wafa, 27, and her sister were captured along with hundreds of other women from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority when the town on Sinjar fell into IS hands in August this year, 

Fearing they would be forced to marry a captor or sold as a “wife” to a stranger, they tried to take each other’s lives other late one night, a new report by Amnesty International reveals.


A displaced Iraqi Yazidi woman. Yazidis say members of their families men -women and even babies- have been abducted by militants. (Photo: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images) (Note: this post does not specifically refer to the subject of this picture)


“The man who was holding us said that either we marry him and his brother or he would sell us. At night we tried to strangle ourselves,” Wafa said.

“Two girls who were held with us woke up and stopped us and then stayed awake to watch over us,” she said. “When they fell asleep at 5am we tried again, and again they woke up and stopped us. I could not speak for several days after that.”

Another woman named Jilan, who was just 19, also took her own life out of fear she would be raped, the Amnesty report revaled.

A girl who was held with her said: “One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes.

“Jilan killed herself in the bathroom… She was very beautiful; I think she knew she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself.”

“They have suffered unbelievable atrocities”.

The Amnesty report also found that Yazidi girls as young as 12 are being raped and sold, as well as and forced into marriage by IS fighters and supporters of the group, and that they are “deeply traumatised” by these experiences.

Many girls have attempted to commit suicide in order to escape the atrocities, but IS fighters also threaten to kill the girls’ families if they take their own lives, the organisation reports. Yezidi and Christian women have also been buried alive or gang raped, according to grassroots media organisation Your Middle East.


Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera told the ABC Yazidi women and children who fled the Sinjar region in August now faced “dire conditions”.

“They have suffered unbelievable atrocities,” Ms Rovera said.

“They have also seen atrocities being committed on others, on their relatives … some of them have seen their relatives being killed,” she added. “The greatest damage has been done to them as women and girls. They have been tortured, including by being raped and sexually abused… They have been sold as sex slaves essentially.”

IS militants have overrun swathes of Iraq since June, and carried out a litany of abuses in both Iraq and Syria, the ABC reports.

Amnesty International says “possibly thousands” of women and children have been abducted since the Islamic State took control of northern Iraq in June and began targeting Yazidis and other minorities in north Iraq in a campaign that, experts say, amounts to ethnic cleansing.

If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault. Help is available. Call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic, Family Violence Counselling Service 24/7 on  1800 737 732. Bravehearts are another organisation that help the victims of child sex abuse. You can find more information about them here. You can also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

You may also be interested in reading:

Girls are being raped and buried alive by Islamic State. So why aren’t we talking about it?

Unbelievable: the official ISIS ‘guide to rape’.

Chilling new footage shows ISIS fighters selling girls at the market.

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