ISIS: Perfecting a Theology of Rape

A woman, who said she was raped by Islamic State militants, in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Fifteen-year-old F says her family of nine was trying to escape, speeding up mountain switchbacks, when their aging Opel overheated. She, her mother, and her sisters — 14, 7, and 4 years old — were helplessly standing by their stalled car when a convoy of heavily armed Islamic State fighters encircled them.

“Right away, the fighters separated the men from the women,” she said. She, her mother and sisters were first taken in trucks to the nearest town on Mount Sinjar. “There, they separated me from my mom. The young, unmarried girls were forced to get into buses.” -Rukmini Calamachi for The New York Times

There is a powerful, gutting piece in the New York Times that is making the rounds online. It is about the way ISIS has deliberately and systematically enslaved and raped Yazidi women and girls as part of their jihadist mission. It is an important article and gives context to the trauma of this war not often discussed in the media. 

But before you read the article, this is what you should know:

If sexual abuse is part of your story, you might want to skip reading this article.

If sexual abuse is part of your story, and reading articles (and even headlines) triggers difficult memories for you, it’s okay to talk to someone about that—someone professional.

There are a lot of you, women and men, who are suffering—re-living your own trauma as the world hears about what is happening to Iraq and Syria’s Yazidi women and girls. You can be an important ally for them…but only if you keep yourself safe. Please, do what you need to do to take good care of yourself.