Iraq: Militants Kidnap, Rape or Kill Hundreds of Women from Minority Groups
Thursday, August 14, 2014 8:40 AM

Sunni militants from the group Islamic State (IS) have abducted hundreds of women and girls from ethnic minority communities in northern Iraq, including Yazidi, Shabak and Turkomen women. The UN reports that the militants have executed, kidnapped, sexually assaulted, or sold the women to IS fighters as “malak yamin” or slaves. Human rights experts are calling on the international community and the Iraqi government to act immediately to secure the release of the women and prevent a massacre of minority people by IS militants.  They condemned the “explicit targeting of women and children and the barbaric acts IS has perpetrated on minorities.”

Tens of thousands of Yazidis and other minority Iraqis have fled their homes in recent weeks as IS advanced across northern Iraq, capturing the Northern Iraqi town of Sinjar in early August. On August 12, Yazidi lawmaker Vian Dakheel implored the Iraqi parliament to save the Yazidi women who “have been sold in a slavery market.” Other Yazidi and minorities fleeing from IS have faced dire conditions, including starvation, thirst, and disease, particularly those who sheltered from the fighting on a remote desert mountain near Sinjar.

The United States, UN and the World Health Organization have responded with humanitarian aid, and the US has conducted limited airstrikes. Ms. Dakheel and UN humanitarian agencies insist that many people are still unable to escape from IS, and are suffering in “conditions of extreme heat, dehydration and imminent threat of attack.” No women have been reported as rescued. 

Compiled from:  Nordland, Rod, Despite U.S. Claims, Yazidis Say Crisis Is Not Over, The New York Times (August 14, 2014);  Barbaric’ sexual violence perpetrated by Islamic State militants in Iraq – UN,” UN News Centre (August 13, 2014); “Iraq: ‘Immediate action needed to protect human rights of Yazidis in grave danger”-UN experts,”’ OHCHR (August 12, 2014); Yacoub, Sameer, Iraqi official says 100s of Yazidi Women held captive by Islamic state group militants, U.S. News and World Report (August 8, 2014).