THE BLOG

Preaching to Stop the Converted

15/07/2015 15:17 BST | Updated 14/07/2016 10:59 BST

Munira was just 15 when she was forced to marry a sixty-year-old man who raped and beat her repeatedly until he got bored and sold her to another man.

Noor was kidnapped at gunpoint, torn from the rest of her family, beaten and abused, before being sold. Her "buyer" then proceeded to rape her before he too got tired and handed her over to his six bodyguards who spent the night sexually abusing her in the most horrible ways.

Bushra's friend slit her wrists rather than face the same fate as girls like Munira and Noor. Bushra chose to live, but was horribly raped and abused. Often she was tied by her hands and feet before being viciously assaulted.

I met these three young women recently In Baghdad. They were desperate to tell their stories in the hope that they would prevent more girls meeting the same vile fate at the hands of the thugs they call Daesh.

In the West, most media and politicians graciously call them Islamic State fighters. They are nothing of the sort. Islam plays no part in their evil actions. They are terrorists pure and simple.

Noor, Munira and Bushra have been horribly abused, but bizarrely they are the lucky ones. They have managed to escape their captors and are now back in the comparative safety of the Kurdish Region of Northern Iraq. More than 4000 other girls and young women remain prisoners of Daesh.

The three young women are from the Yazidi community, a religious group that lived in comparative peace amongst their Muslim neighbours until Daesh invaded last June.

The wider conflict has caused more than three million people to abandon their homes and their livelihoods to live as refugees anywhere they can find that's safe. It means hundreds of thousands of people are now packed into grim refugee camps across Iraq or forced to live in squalor in deserted buildings or even by the side of roads in abandoned cars.

My charity, the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, is helping as many of these people as we can across Iraq. We're building health centres, employing doctors and nurses, running mobile medical clinics, operating training centres, and schools.

But it is the fate of these poor Yazidi girls that is making headlines around the world. So horrific are their stories, that they seem almost unbelievable. Sadly they are absolutely true.

Last week, Noor, Munira and Bushra, took an extremely brave decision to join together and come to the UK to tell their stories. They had heard news that they simply did not believe at first. British girls, young women their age and younger, were leaving the UK with all its safety, benefits and privileges, and choosing to travel abroad to join Daesh after crossing the borders into Syria and Iraq.

I told them about case after case. Secondary school girls leaving Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester believing a better life awaited them serving the new Islamic "Caliphate."

The Yazidi girls' astonishment quickly turned to horror. In a meeting with a group of pupils from a Bristol school last week they started to detail the wretched misery of their existence as captives of Daesh. Family members shot in front of them, other loved ones kidnapped and never seen again.

Their voices then dropped to a whisper as they talked about their own experiences at the hands of these thugs. They were Yazidis the men said, so it was ok for them, as Muslims, to abuse them in any way they wanted. They could even kill them if they saw fit - god was somehow ok with this.

These monsters have set themselves up to abuse these girls and thousands like them on an industrial scale. Busloads of women and girls were moved across Iraq and Syria. The prettiest and the youngest - some just nine-years-old - are set apart from the rest. They fetch the highest prices at slave markets arranged solely to trade the girls.

Once their new "owner" gets his hands on his new purchase, they proceeded to submit them to the vilest treatment imaginable. Multiple rapes, sexual abuse, torture, and beatings and for those that refused to comply, sometimes death.

The Bristol schoolgirls listening to their stories and later another group of boys and girls at a school in Birmingham, were understandably shaken.

Of course, the youngsters chosen to listen to the stories are almost certainly not the ones that needed telling. These were smart and intelligent girls and boys whose own negative views of Daesh were simply reinforced by what the girls had to say.

The great hope is that they will return to their classes and spread the word. Hopefully those messages from Noor, Munira and Bushra, will eventually reach the very children preparing themselves to flee their loving, comfortable homes in Britain and head for a new life with Daesh.

These Yazidi girls know the horrible truth of the fate that will befall anyone considering that move.

For more information about AMAR, visit our website. Exclusive interviews with Noor, Bushra and Munira are available on our Youtube channel.