Iraq Slave Markets Sell Women for $10 to Attract Isis Recruits

Islamic militants in Iraq have created slave markets, trading and selling women and children of Christian and Yazidi groups, according to UN investigators. At least 2,500 women and children have been imprisoned, sexually abused and sold for around $10 each by Isis slavers. 

The slave markets in the al-Quds area of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria have been used as a way of attracting new recruits to Islamic State, the UN said according to a Times report. Women who were captured at the end of August managed to contact the UN, having kept hold of their mobile phones. They reported being subject to sexual assaults. 

The UN study is based on claims made in 450 interviews with Iraqi witnesses to alleged war crimes. UN high commissioner for human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein told the Daily Mail: "The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity." 

One 13-year-old Yazidi girl gave a harrowing account of what happened to her after she was abducted by Isis from her village on 3 August. "She stated that ISIL [Islamic State] took hundreds of women who had not been able to flee to Jabal Sinjar," stated the report. "The girl stated that she was raped several times by several ISIL fighters, before she was sold to a market." 

Other accounts detail how women were separated from their children and made to watch beheading videos. One Yazidi woman was given to 10 Islamic State men. "We were sold for $10 or $12. Who could accept that behaviour? Can God accept that?" the woman told Euronews. "It's a shame to rape a woman, but when she is raped by 10 men… what is this? They are animals, they are not humans. Because of them I am afraid all the time." 

She managed to flee her captors with the help of sympathetic local residents and sought safety in Mosul. A 17-year-old woman said she was being held captive with 40 other Yazidi women by Islamic State fighters. 

"I beg you not to publish my name because I'm so ashamed of what they are doing to me. There's a part of me that just wants to die. But there is another part of me that still hopes that I will be saved and that I will be able to embrace my parents once again," she told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper. 

The newspaper was able to interview her by calling her on her mobile phone, after being given the number by her parents, who are in a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

"We've asked our jailers to shoot us dead, to kill us, but we are too valuable for them. They keep telling us that we are unbelievers because we are non-Muslims and that we are their property, like war booty. They say we are like goats bought at a market." 

The UN High Commission for Human Rights reported that trade in malak yumin – war booty – is at very high levels. 

By Fiona Keating

In squalid exile, Iraqi Yazidis hope for return

One of the most haunting memories 70-year old Aishan Ali Dirbou has of her encounter with Islamic State militants who overran her hometown is feeling the ends of their AK-47 assault rifles dig into her side as she lay face down, pretending to be dead. 

Today, the widow is one of tens of thousands of members of Iraq's Yazidi religious minority, who after fleeing the town of Sinjar last month, are now living in squalor in unsanitary shelters and camps, with little food or water and no medicine — uncertain what their future holds. 

The Kurdish military says it is now on a push toward Sinjar, located in the desert of northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border, in an assault aimed at retaking the town from the extremists. The past week, Kurdish fighters retook three towns just north of Sinjar — Mahmoudiyah, the Rabia border cross and the town of Zumar — with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes. 

The Yazidis now living in the Kurdish city of Dahuk are cautiously optimistic —wary after having already lost so much, but hopeful to return home and pick up the pieces. At the Badlees Primary School, nearly 250 Yazidis are crammed in, some of them 28 to a room. 

Many are growing desperate, with nothing but handouts to feed them, and the clothes on their backs to keep them warm as winter creeps closer. The Kurdish government has provided some aid in the way of foodstuffs and thin cushions to sleep on, but the central government in Baghdad has made no contact, the refugees said. 

Three families gathered around a small pan of eggs, sharing piece of bread among them. Outside, dozens of eggshells littered the ground alongside a tiny portable stove used to cook for all the residents. Outside, children fill up containers with water from a tank on the playground, but the water is not clean enough to drink. Inside, a woman washes children's clothes in a small muddy tub. 

The rainy season has begun in this mountain city. Earlier this week, a few inches of rain flooded the school, packing the grounds where families sleep and children play with several inches of soggy mud. They spoke of harrowing ordeals when the Islamic State group militants — who consider the Yazidis a heretical sect — stormed into Sinjar and nearby villages. 

The United Nations estimates that more than 1.8 million Iraqis were displaced this year as the militant group violently swept across western and northern Iraq. Tens of thousands of Sinjar residents quickly fled into the nearby mountain range. 

Dirbou said she had no way out and no one to come to her rescue. When the gunmen swept by her home, Dirbou said she played dead. The gunmen prodded her with their rifles, then moved on. For six days, she walked — and when she couldn't walk, she crawled — attempting to make her way to the Sinjar Mountains. 

When she was spotted by a few militant sympathizers, they took pity on her, giving her a piece of bread to hold her over. After 10 days on the mountain, she and others were rescued in an airlift and taken to Dahuk. There she was reunited with her daughters and their families — but many of her other relatives are missing, prolonging the ordeal. 

"The fear has not stopped just because we ran from Daesh," she said, using the Islamic State group's Arabic acronym. "Sometimes I believe I was lucky to get away, but other times I feel it (would have been) better to die." 

Other Yazidis in Dahuk recounted stories of babies and elderly relatives being shot by the militants "Where is God?" asked Amal, one of few Muslim Sinjaris staying at the school. She withheld her last name out of fear. "I am sure some of us will not survive to see Sinjar again."