In summer 2014 this Yazidi women was surprised when ISIS came into her village in the Sinjar district of northern Iraq. All men were driven away in trucks, never to be seen again. Later they found out that they had been shot. The women under 45 were taken away and sold as sexual slaves to ISIS militants. ISIS fighters established a system of sexual slavery, claiming that the rape of non-Muslims was a form of worship. They set up markets in several towns where girls as young as nine were put up for auction to militants, with owners often trading women again online. This woman was lucky enough to be freed for a ransom after more than a year.
Traditionally, Yazidi women who have had relations with non-Yazidis were expelled from the community and never allowed to return to their faith, as only marriages within the religious community are tolerated. But in late 2014 the most important religious leader of the Yazidis, Baba Sheikh asserted that women who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS should be welcomed back to the community. This extraordinary decision to remake religious rules would entail that women that had been freed from ISIS would be baptised again in the sacred white spring at Lalish, the holiest pilgrimage site of the Yazidis. I was told that many of those women, who often have lost their husbands and families are marrying again.