Friday, September 19, 2014

'I was scared' - escaped child bride

Narin is a 14-year-old Yazidi girl given as a gift to an ISIS commander.

"As the sun rose over my dusty village, relatives called with terrifying news: jihadists from ISIS were coming for us. . . We scrambled out of town on foot, taking only our clothes and some valuables.

"Our plan was to take refuge on Mount Sinjar, along with thousands of other Yazidis who were fleeing there," Narin told the Washington Post. "Suddenly several vehicles drew up and we found ourselves surrounded by militants wearing Islamic State uniforms. Several people screamed; we were scared for our lives. I've never felt so helpless in my 14 years. They had blocked our path to safety, and there was nothing we could do."

They were divided into groups by gender and age, "One for young and capable men, another for girls and young women, and a third for older men and women. The jihadists stole cash and jewellery from this last group, and left them. They placed the women and girls in trucks. As they drove us away, we heard gunshots. Later we learned they were killing the young men, including my 19-year-old brother, who had married just six months ago.

"They took us to an empty school. Islamic State fighters entered. One recited: 'I testify that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammed is his prophet.' If we repeated them, we would become Muslims. We refused. They were furious.

"We were taken to a large hall full of Yazidi girls and women. We slept on the floor and ate only once per day. Every now and then, an Islamic State man would come in and tell us to convert, but each time we refused. As faithful Yazidis, we would not abandon our religion. We wept a lot.

"My childhood friend Shayma and I were given as a gift to two Islamic State members. They wanted to make us their wives or concubines. Shayma was awarded to Abu Hussein, a cleric. I was given to an overweight, dark-bearded man about 50 years old. He went by the nickname Abu Ahmed. They drove us to their home in Fallujah.

"Abu Ahmed kept telling me to convert, which I ignored. He tried to rape me several times, but I did not allow him to touch me in any sexual way. He cursed me and beat me every day, punching and kicking me. Shayma and I began to discuss killing ourselves.

"On our sixth day in Fallujah, Abu Ahmed left for business. Shayma's captor went to the mosque for prayers, leaving us alone in the house. Shayma and I used kitchen knives and meat cleavers to break the locks of two doors to get out."

Wearing traditional black abayas they found in the house, they walked through the town to the house of an acquaintance, who recruited a cab driver to take them to Baghdad, dressed in niqabs, with only their eyes visible, and carrying fake student IDs. With more fake ID cards, family friends enabled them to board a flight to Irbil."Hugging my dad again was the best moment of my life." 

When Narin met her mother, "we hugged and kept crying until then I fainted. My month-long ordeal was over, and I felt reborn.

"I can never set foot again in our little village, because the memory of my brother who died would haunt me too much. I still have nightmares and swoon several times a day when I remember what I saw or imagine what would have happened if Shayma and I hadn't escaped.

"I want to leave this country altogether. This country has no place for me any more. I want to go to a place where I might be able to start over, if that is even possible."

Narin is not her real name. She was fortunate to escape. She has at least one female relative who has not been so fortunate.

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