A Yazidi woman sold as a sex-slave eight times by an ISIS jihadi says she was put on parade like she was being picked out in a ‘car showroom’.
Khalida, 20, was kidnapped and taken to Raqqa where she was put on display in a ‘meat market’ where women are purchased for as little as a mobile phone, or simply given away as ‘gifts’.
The most beautiful women are put into a separate ‘VIP’ room where leaders can take their time choosing their favourite three or four girls each.
Khalida was bought by an old man with a white beard and kept in a small room where he raped her – and then beaten by his wife for ‘tempting’ her husband.
But it was only the beginning of the horror: she went on to endure months of daily abuse, torture and brutality at the hands as she was bought and sold by eight men.
The quiet, slight-framed, woman tried to kill herself many times to end her terrible ordeal and even tattooed her father’s name onto her arm so her body could be identified after her death.
However she survived.
Ultimately Khalida threw herself upon the mercy of her final ‘slave master’, and appealed to him to free her from the misery ISIS had condemned her to.
Her last captor, a Syrian man, finally agreed to release her – and forced her to barter for her freedom. He judged her family must pay $30,000 [£20,000] even though they were poor and homeless.
‘I begged him and kissed his feet begging for him to contact my family,’ Khalida told MailOnline.
‘I told him I had been enslaved for over a year and had heard nothing about my family. I begged him every day for two months.
‘Finally he let me call my brother Faisal. He told him he would sell me for $30,000.
‘I told him my family were poor and had nothing, that they had abandoned their home.
‘I had to barter for my life. Finally he agreed to sell me.’
‘I was taken to a village near the front line near Mosul. I had to walk for five hours and I called to the Peshmerga fighters.’
Talking by torch-light in a cold, unfinished flat, in Duhok, northern Iraq, this brave young woman has vowed not to let her 16-month ordeal define her life.
She told MailOnline: ‘Before the war I had a happy life. I lived with my family, helping my mother around the house with the cooking and the cleaning.
‘Now my dream is to be able to read and write, because I was not able to go to school when I was young.
‘When I was out there [in captivity] I was blind. When I was being moved around there many signs, road signs, if I had have been able to read them I might have been able to have escaped earlier.’
Traditionally Yazidi women are forbidden to marry – or have sexual relations – outside of their community, or even their caste, and are expelled if they do so.
However the Yazidi spiritual leader, Baba Sheikh Khurto Hajji Ismail, made a declaration supporting the 800 women abducted and sexually abused by ISIS, to ensure they were allowed back into their tight-knit community.
‘The Baba Sheikh wrote a letter supporting women like Khalida, to make sure they were not expelled or shunned from their community,’ said Dr Saeed Dakhil Saeed, president of the Sinjar Foundation, which supports Yazidi victims of sexual violence and other kidnapped refugees.
WHO ARE THE YAZIDIS?
An ancient religion sharing many of the creation theories of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Yazidi faith has been unfairly condemned because of the reverence it gives to one of seven angels – Malak Tawous, or the peacock angel.
Malak Tawous, the peacock angel, is considered by the Yazidi as the messenger between God and the people. But detractors have compared Malak Tawous to Satan, the fallen angel, and condemned Yazidis as devil worshipers.
Yazidis have suffered 72 massacres in their history, with many considering the latest attack by ISIS as the 73rd.
Yazidis consider themselves descended from Adam, but not Eve, traditionally believe in the reincarnation of souls and pray towards the sun, two times a day, at sunrise and sunset.
It is impossible for outsiders to convert to Yazidism, one must be born a Yazidi, similar to neighbouring religious minorities, the Alawis and Druze.
Yazidi children are baptised at birth by a priest, circumcision is often practised and a form of communion with blessed bread is shared at weddings. The dead are buried with their hands crossed.
Yazidi are permitted any meat including pork, although not peacock, may drink alcohol but are forbidden to eat lettuce.