A 12-year-old Yazidi girl escaped from almost certain sexual slavery under the brutal Islamic State (Isis) regime, by spiking her captor's tea with sleeping pills. The child was being held by militants with her 17-year-old aunt in Tel Afar, near Mosul, for nearly four months before they made their James Bond-style escape.
The UN estimate that Daesh (Isis) are holding around 3,500 Yazidi women and children, after their spiritual home near Mount Sinjar, in the war-torn Nineveh Province, was overrun by the jihadists in August 2014. Between 2,500 and 5,000 Yazidi men were massacred by the extremists whilst the kidnapped women and girls were kidnapped.
IS say that the Yazidis, who are ethnically Kurdish, are apostates because of their faith, which has fragments of ancient Persian beliefs from Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. Many of their beliefs pre-date Islam, but Yazidis are monotheists – believing in one god.
Their infidel status amongst the jihadists serves as justification for IS to sell many of the girls into sexual slavery, or given to militant fighters as rewards for bravery in battle. If they refuse they are often slaughtered – with Kurdish officials estimating that 250 have been put to death in Mosul – buried in the desert on the outskirts of the city.
Often the women are forced into birth control to stop pregnancy and keep the trade flowing. This fate would have almost certainly been endured by the girl and her aunt, as girls as young as 12 are seen as fair game for militants.
According to Vian Dakhil, the only Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, the young girl had asked the IS fighters for pills to help them sleep, but instead slipped them into the jihadists' tea. As their captors slept, both women managed to escape to nearby Kurdish-held territory to the east.
Dakhil, who has been honoured for raising awareness of the group's plight, told Kurdish BasNews: "They put the medicine in militants' tea and secured their escape after they fell asleep." Since her desertion the child has been reunited with her mother and sister, but two of her siblings are still being held in IS territory.
Over 700 rape victims from the ethnic group have been treated at a UN-backed clinic in northern Iraq. In April 2015, it was estimated that two girls captured by IS kill themselves every day after being abused by the insurgents.