'She burned herself to be less attractive'


One eight-year-old was repeatedly sold and raped, while another girl set herself on fire to make herself less attractive to her jihadist captors.

These are only two of the more than 1,400 horror stories German doctor Jan Ilhan Kizilhan has heard first-hand from Yazidi women and girls once enslaved by Islamic State jihadists in Iraq.

"They have been through hell," he told AFP in an interview in Geneva.

Kizilhan heads a project that has brought 1,100 women and girls to Germany to help heal their deep physical and psychological wounds.

As Yazidis, who follow a unique faith despised by IS, the women raped and sometimes left pregnant by the jihadists are seen by many in their community as a source of dishonour.

Those who are shunned become impoverished and risk falling into prostitution to support themselves, and a large number commit suicide, Kizilhan said.

Kizilhan shuddered as he recalled the case of one girl he had met in a refugee camp last August, who suffered burns to over 80 percent of her body.

"She had no nose, no ears left," he said, adding that he was even more shocked when he learned what had happened to her.

IS fighters had held the girl and her sisters for weeks, raping and torturing them, before they escaped.

Then one night sleeping in her tent in the refugee camp, the girl dreamt IS fighters were outside. In a panic she poured gasoline over herself and lit a match, hoping it would make her so ugly they would not rape her again.

Kizilhan had that girl chartered out immediately for fear she might not survive. She remains in hospital in Germany after more than a dozen operations, and will still need 30 more types of skin and bone surgery.

Most of the girls and women in the programme were between 16 and 20, he said, adding that the oldest was in her 40s. The youngest was eight.

"IS sold her eight times during the 10 months she was held hostage, and raped her hundreds of times," Kizilhan said, shaking his head in disgust.

Due to her young age, the girl would likely benefit greatly from treatment and a new environment, he said, voicing hope that "she could still make something of her future."

Source : thedailystar

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