ABOUT THE YAZIDI GIRLS
Hear the story of Shireen - who was 12-years old when ISIS ripped her away from her mother - as she reveals what happened to her at the hands of her captors.
Caution: This video contains sensitive material.
In August 2014, The Islamic State (ISIS) captured Sinjar City and the surrounding villages, the Yazidi heartland. The Yazidis are a small minority living in northwestern Iraq who practice a mixture of beliefs rooted in Christianity, Islam, and other religions. They have little political and financial power. It is now believed that ISIS planned a systematic attack on these people in order to offer Yazidi women and girls as an incentive to their recruits. Time and again the same scenario played out on that fateful August day: the men were slaughtered on-site and buried in mass graves, while the women and girls were loaded on buses to slave markets. They were bought and sold out of those sordid warehouses as well as on the internet. Starved, beaten, separated from their mothers, raped sometimes by multiple men, and forced to abort the babies they carried, these women are said to have suffered unimaginable brutality - the worst seen by experienced UN envoys who have worked in Rwanda and the Kosovo. In fact, the UN has officially declared this tragedy a Genocide.
Out of the estimated 7,000 yazidis captured, some 1,300 managed to escape under dangerous conditions of extreme heat, dehydration and a lack of food and medical care. Once they make it to safety, the survivors are housed in refugee camps where they receive basic medical care and food.
Psychological help is scarce and many of the girls suffer from severe post-traumatic disorders. Survivors of sex trafficking typically feel worthless, have a hard time sleeping, experience traumatic flashbacks and suffer from physical ailments such as headaches and stomach aches. Some have suicidal thoughts and frequent bursts of anger when they remember everything they have lost, from their family members to the innocence of their childhood and the opportunity to have a "normal" life with marriage and children of their own.
The camps are in desperate need of resources such as food, clothing, baby products, feminine hygiene products and medical professionals. Yazda, the organization we chose to team up with, provides these necessities and has also established successful programs to help the girls heal psychologically. You can read about Yazda here.
Many of these young Yazidi women who have returned are courageously fighting for their community. Nadia Murad is a Yazidi survivor who, with the help of Yazda, has told her story on an international level. She was cruelly beaten, tortured, and raped every day until she finally escaped, and still mourns the 18 members of her family who were either killed or remain missing. Nadia tells the truth about the ongoing genocide and abuse that plagues her people, reaching an audience in the United Nations and other world leaders. She was appointed United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The students behind #TeensForYazidis hope to help the Yazidi girls recover enough psychologically so they can help rebuild their community. We want them to know that there is hope in the future and help them find some peace in their hearts so they can dream up life goals again and perhaps reunite with their loved ones who may still be alive.