Samar was a happy young Yazidi girl, surrounded by a loving family and close friends. But in August 2014, when the Islamic State (ISIS) initiated its campaign of genocide and mass destruction, she was captured with her family. She was only 10 years old.
“I was captured on 3 August 2014 with my uncle’s family. They separated us from each other. They took me with other kids to a kindergarten. There, they taught us Quran.
They made a lottery in the kindergarten. There were three things: marriage, death, or serving an ISIS family. Each kid got a different paper. Some kids were killed. Some were given to ISIS fighters as wives. Others were chosen to be servants in their houses.
I was chosen to be a servant. I served in a house for two years. I was only 10, but they forced me to carry blocks and other heavy things.”
I was captured on 3 August 2014 with my uncle’s family. They separated us from each other. They took me with other kids to a kindergarten. There, they taught us Quran.
Another survivor, Bafrin, was held captive in Tal-Afar and Mosul. “We were living in Kocho and our life was so happy. I had six brothers and five sisters. We were not rich, but we had a simple and happy life.
We were captured on 3 August 2014 in Qine, where my uncles were killed. We were then taken to Tal-Afar and Mosul and separated from each other. I stayed for two years in captivity in Mosul. Then ISIS sold me to a man. After his death, his family sold me to another family.”
Escape from captivity
Samar escaped from ISIS captivity in August 2018. Since then, she has returned to Sinjar and lives in her community. “My friends are no longer here. They all emigrated to Germany, but I am going back to school now.”
When Bafrin returned to Sinjar, she got married and is now the mother of a little girl. She expects reparations to help the Yazidi community. “Every one of us needs help to recover. Survivors need psychological support, and they face a difficult economic situation. All Yazidis are tired. Some people have also been missing for seven years and nobody knows what happened to them.”
Samar has a similar wish for the Yazidi community. “Nobody has helped me until today, but I hope the international community will help the survivors.”
All Yazidis are tired. Some people have also been missing for seven years and nobody knows what happened to them.
Supporting survivors to rebuild their lives
Today, most survivors of ISIS atrocities remain without compensation for the harms done to them. The duty to provide reparations lies with the parties responsible for perpetrating or failing to prevent the sexual violence, and although survivors urgently need compensation to rebuild their lives and an acknowledgment of their harm and suffering, the pathway to official state-awarded or judicial reparations often takes longer than a lifetime.
Today, survivors still face dire conditions, often lacking basic goods and services, including proper medical care and psychosocial support. This makes it impossible to rebuild their lives with dignity.
The Global Survivors Fund (GSF) has partnered with Nadia’s Initiative and other stakeholders in Iraq to provide interim reparative measures to survivors of conﬂict-related sexual violence that occurred during ISIS captivity.
The project will identify survivors in the Sinjar and Duhok regions of Northern Iraq and determine the nature of the individual and collective interim reparative measures they will decide to receive based on their social, political, economic, and cultural needs.
Samar and Bafrin are among those who have been identified and will receive interim reparations. Though not reparations in the formal sense, these interim measures have the potential to transform survivors' lives, in dignity.
The European Union supports the Global Survivors Fund’s work on conflict-related sexual violence across the globe, for a total amount of €2 million from 2021 to 2023.