For sometime I have been following the plight of the Yazidi people and their continued genocide in Iraq. It is estimated that nearly 5,000 Yazidi men have been killed by ISIL and almost 7,000 people, including women and children have been abducted, since ISIL militants took hold of Sinjar, a Kurdish controlled town, predominantly inhabited by Yazidis in Northern Iraq on 3 August 2014.
The Yazidi's are a Kurdish religious community who primarily live in Iraq. lSIL have embarked on an ongoing campaign of murder, rape and what is being called a "forced conversion campaign". ISIL are justifying this by claiming that the Yazidi people are devil worshipers and so condemn then to brutal torture, murder and rape.
Recently through the charity AMAR, I met three young women in London who have travelled to Europe to tell the world their stories of rape and sexual exploitation that occurred at the hands of ISIL. It is a story that may have thankfully had a positive ending for them, but unfortunately the horrors they experienced continue to be a reality for many like them across the so called Islamic State.
These women have done an incredibly brave thing. The three young women aged16 to 23 years were determined to tell their stories, even though it is incredibly hard for them to speak out as it is not common practice in their culture. But they recognize the urgency and importance of share experiences and bringing immediate attention to the horrors that are unfolding for this small community.
Their homes were attacked, male members of the family were killed and they were taken by the ISIL fighters. The girls were separated from their mothers. Their sisters were sold as slaves to older men. When these men grew tied of them they were then sold on to another man.
These young women and many others like them, were kept,in appalling conditions, with little food, unable to go out and constantly forced to listen while other young women were gang raped, knowing it could and would be happening to them at any moment.
The were continually raped by men with no respect for them or the medical condition they might be in. They had no way out and no one to ask for help. They were however lucky and were eventually able to escape, however they will have been easily replaced by another young girl who will be subjected to the same horrific acts, and so the cycle continues.
I encourage you to view the recent videos that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) produced with Angelina Jolie during her visit to a Kurdish refugee camp.
These videos tell the tragic stories of Yazidi women captured by Islamic
State militants in Iraq and the true atrocities that are being conducted daily to a minority group that did nothing but worship the wrong god.
It is very clear that rape is being used as a weapon of war here and more needs to be done to protect these vulnerable women. Global leaders need to step in and take more of a stand against ISIL before it is too late and a whole culture has been wiped out and many lives ruined.
Every day now we see the barbaric acts that the so called Islamic State are undertaking and it is becoming more and more unbelievable that this can be allowed to continue. It is important that these women are not forgotten we have to keep their story in the media and continue to put pressure on global leaders to do more to protect them and the world from the growing threat of ISIL.