Tortured Yazidi women and girls, who managed to escape the brutality of Islamic State (Isis) militants, had to face further humiliation, allegedly by Kurdish officials. The rescued women were forced to undergo virginity tests, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) has "no scientific validity".
A UN report has estimated that 3,500 people – mainly Yazidi women and young girls – were being kept as sex slaves by IS (Daesh) in Iraq. "Those being held are predominantly women and children and come primarily from the Yazidi community, but a number are also from other ethnic and religious minority communities," the joint report issued by UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and UN human rights office said.
The tests are seen as proof of rape by Iraqi courts, even as its validity is not accurate. WHO has previously said that the belief that all virgin women and girls have intact hymens and bleed on first intercourse is inaccurate.
"Kurdistan officials took their needs seriously, but subjected some unmarried women and girls to 'virginity tests' – an abusive and inaccurate procedure – as part of a forensic, post-rape examination. Judge Ayman Bamerny, who heads a committee gathering evidence of ISIS crimes, told us these tests were seen as evidence of rape by Iraqi courts," Human Rights Watch researcher (Women's Rights Division), Rothna Begum, said.
"They are based on a commonly held but inaccurate belief that all women and girls who are virgins have intact hymens that bleed on first intercourse. As such they are ineffective for determining whether a woman or girl has been raped," she added.
Virginity tests were carried out on unmarried Yazidi females kidnapped and held captive by IS (Daesh) in 2014, Daily Mail cited eyewitnesses as saying. The majority of IS sex slaves were captured when the terror group attacked the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar in August 2014.
"As officials work toward proper forensic examinations of rape survivors, they should ensure that all women and girls in Iraq who were subject to sexual violence are treated with dignity and respect," the Human Rights Watch said.
IS militants "used to force captives to pray and then rape us", Nadia Murad Basee, 21, who was captured by the group in Sinjar said. "We were not worth the value of animals. They raped girls in groups. They did what a mind could not imagine," she said.