The Current

'I want my voice to be heard': How two Yazidi sisters escaped ISIS captors

Two Yazidi sisters, who survived ISIS captivity, now long to return home to Shingal Mountain.
Badia, 16-years-old, (L) and sister Beshra, 15-years-old, both escaped from ISIS and live in the Kabato Yazidi refugee camp outside of Duhok, Iraq. (Peter Bregg©)

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When the city of Mosul falls, the eyes of the world will turn to the dreadful aftermath: the mass graves, the wrecked homes, the missing — and to the more than 5,000 women and Yazidi girls taken by ISIS as sex slaves.

Yazidis are an ethnic and religious minority group, attacked in their homeland in Shingal Mountain when ISIS swept through northern Iraq in 2014.

Beshra and Badia are sisters who live in a refugee camp near Duhok in the Kurdistan part of Iraq.  They fled Shingal Mountain with their parents in 2014 but were captured by ISIS. The sisters were separated from their parents and forced to become sex slaves for ISIS fighters. 

"They treated us very badly. They beat us every day," says 15-year-old Beshra. 
Beshra's older sister Badia crawled through an open window and ran for six hours to escape ISIS captors. (Peter Bregg©)

After months in captivity, Beshra escaped with her cousin.

"The guard at the door was praying and he couldn't see us. And another guard in the garden was cleaning his Kalashnikov (rifle). He was also unaware. They didn't see us, so we escaped," Beshra says.

"When they knew we had escaped, they used their cars to search for us in the middle of the night. I couldn't speak Arabic but the girl I escaped with could and she told me that the ISIS members were shouting, 'You are animals, you are bitches, and we will capture you and kill you wherever you go.'" 

Beshra's older sister Badia also managed to flee from her captors after months in captivity. 

"We locked ourselves in a room and went out a window at four in the morning, and until 10 a.m., we were walking and running," Badia explains. 

The two sisters were able to reunite with their mother and siblings in the Duhok refugee camp in northern Iraq. Their father is still missing. They say they are waiting for him to return so that they can travel as a family back to Shingal Mountain.

Right to Left: Badia, Beshra and their mother in their tent in Camp Kabarto in Duhok, Feb. 15, 2017. Camp Kabarto hosts 5,000 families from the region of Shingal, which was under siege by ISIS in August 2014. (Peter Bregg©)

However, few Yazidis have resettled in their homeland. Much of Shingal Mountain was flattened by aerial bombardments, and ISIS still has a presence in the region. 

While some Yazidi religious leaders have said that Yazidi girls captured by ISIS are no longer pure because they were raped by ISIS fighters, Beshra does not shy away from telling her story.

"I want my voice to be heard and to reach all the corners of the earth. We want everyone to know what has happened to the Yazidi girls and women and all the Yazidi people." 

Listen to the full segment at the top of this post. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.