Yazidi girls were snatched from their mothers, sold to IS fighters, tortured and even raped in public by more than two or three jihadists at a time before being freed by the Islamic State (Isis) in northern Iraq, according to harrowing details recounted after their release.
IS released 216 members of the Yazidi minority who were captured by the extremist group in the dramatic Sinjar offensive of July 2014 and brought them to the border with Kurdish-held Kirkuk, in Humayria village. Most of the hostages were old women and men, but the group also included some middle-aged women and 55 male and female children.
According to Tom Robinson of the Rise Foundation, which works with refugees in Kurdistan, the hostages were released after their freedom was paid for.
"This is happening quite a lot. A great deal of money has gone into buying back captured women and children," Robinson said.
The Yazidis are considered "devil worshippers" by the Sunni extremist group, and have lived in small communities scattered throughout northwest Iraq, northwest Syria and southeast Turkey.
Ziyad Shammo Khalaf, who works with the local NGO Yazda to offer assistance and first aid to the persecuted Yazidis, exclusively told IBTimes UK that after their kidnapping in Sinjar, the boys and girls were taken away by force from the mothers and "distributed among houses" in Mosul and Tal Afar, where they stayed for five months.
"They were treated very badly, they were forced to convert to Islam and pray, and say the Shahada [Islamic creed professing belief in the oneness of God and its prophet Mohammed]. They also gave them lectures about Islam," he said.
Some were treated in a good way, but others were beaten and tortured for refusing to comply with the jihadist group.
Raped in public
"The girls were dragged away from their mothers. If the mothers pleaded them not to give away their daughters, they were beaten and...
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