Sex slave legacy: The children of ISIS

Der Spiegel reports: At night, when Khaula lies in bed and finally falls asleep, she often dreams of her child. Each time, the same images appear before her: She sees her hands clasped together in front of her chest, forming a hollow. When she lifts her upper hand, a bird is sitting beneath it. She sees its body and its feathers, but the bird doesn’t look at her, and there is no song to be heard from its throat. Its tiny head is missing.

“Every time I have this dream, I can’t move for a time,” says Khaula. After eight months as an Islamic State (IS) captive, she gave birth to a baby girl. The child’s father had been her tormentor, an Iraqi IS fighter from Mosul. He had plenty of daughters already and had wanted Khaula, a Yazidi woman kidnapped by IS, to give him a son.

That was 12 months ago. Khaula is now living in Germany, without her child. She’s sitting in the side room of a café in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, where she has come to share her story. She’s a quiet woman of 23 with black curls and enjoys wearing Kurdish garments.

Khaula shares a dormitory with other women who have been freed. The location must be kept secret, and the name “Khaula” is an alias. With IS sympathizers in Germany as well, the women are endangered here too.

The state of Baden-Württemberg has taken in around 1,000 women and children from Iraq to help them come to terms with that happened to them. Psychologist and trauma specialist Jan Ilhan Kizilhan, of the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Villingen-Schwenningen, selected those most in need of help in Iraq, where he has traveled a dozen times. In the past, he has worked with rape victims in Rwanda and Bosnia.

“Only the most seriously traumatized women were allowed to come to Germany,” Kizilhan says. They include women like a Yazidi whose child was locked in a metal box by an IS fighter and set in the direct sun in front of her until it died. Another woman’s infant was beaten to death by an IS man who broke its spine.

In August 2014, Islamic State invaded northern Iraq’s Sinjar region, murdering and kidnapping thousands of women and girls who then became sex slaves for its fighters. Hundreds of women who managed to escape their tormenters returned pregnant. The children of IS fighters can be found today in Syria, in Iraq, in Germany — and possibly even in Turkey, Lebanon and other countries where refugees have sought safe haven. The number is believed to be in the hundreds. In the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq alone, doctors estimate that figure to be somewhere between 40 and 100 infants. Given the sheer number of women who have been kidnapped in the region, that figure appears to be low. [Continue reading…]

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