ֿYazidi woman bravely speaks out
At a special event on the Yazidi refugee crisis organized by IsraAID and the Israeli Mission to the UN, young Marwa Al Aliko bravely shared her story together with Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s Development Director and Isa Mahmut, who volunteered with IsraAID in Greece.
This is Marwa’s story.
“A group of nearly 100 of us left our homes, including many of my close family members.
Our plan was to flee to the mountains. ISIS ambushed our group. The militants separated women and children from the men and transported us in large cars. This was the last time I saw my father and brother.
We were a group of 52 women, they moved us by night and kept us cramped together. We were forbidden to leave. Anyone who tried was repeatedly beaten with wooden sticks. After 9 days of this, I discovered we would be driven to Mosul.
Soon after we arrived Mosul, I was separated from my mother and transferred to an ISIS prison built inside an abandoned hospital. There I was sold into slavery with my sisters.
We held on tightly to one another until they forced our hands apart. My sister and I screamed, cried and fought against our captors as they dragged us into cars and drove through the night.
The next day, I was bought by a man who took me to his house. He abused me, insisted I convert to Islam and beat me each time I refused. The beating continued and I felt close to death.
Later, I was transferred to a different man who kept me tied up attempting to assault me until I threatened suicide. After several days, the man took me to a group of girls, who like me did not speak Arabic.
When I arrived I saw my cousin amongst the girls. I told the group we have to escape. The men watching over us suspected me of helping the girls run away and separated me from them.
Late at night, they handed me over to a family who took me to their home and locked me in a small room. The family left in the morning and did not return until late at night. They opened the door for me to use the bathroom.
I laid awake until four in the morning until the house was quiet and the family was asleep. The door was left unlocked and I managed to slip out of the room and out of the house.
I walked for two hours in the streets not knowing where to go. I was completely lost. I put my hand up for a taxi and told the driver in Arabic that I was Yazidi and trying to flee. He drove me downtown and told me there would be people who could help me.
I knocked on doors until an elderly woman opened and motioned for me to come inside. She asked me if I had been seen and I told her I hadn’t. I stayed in the woman’s house for 23 days.
I tried reaching my uncle from a local call center and the second time I went, the call went through. He agreed to bring the money needed to transfer me to him. Together, we made our way to the border.”
Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking ethnic minority group fiercely targeted by ISIS. Marwa is one of the thousands of Yazidi women that have been captured and forced into sexual slavery and abuse.
The frequent attacks on the Yazidi community forced Marwa Al Aliko and her family from their small farm in Northern Iraq.
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