ISIS has been terrorizing minorities in northern Iraq. What was once a diverse area in the Middle East, is now a place where Christians, Shi’ites, and Turkmen are displaced and killed. Hundreds of women and young girls have been captured, tortured, forced to convert, and forced to marry IS fighters.
One group in particular which has been targeted is the Yazidi women. Yazidis are not “devil worshippers” as ISIS says, they are mostly Kurdish speaking and follow an ancient religion which combines elements of Zoroastrianism, Islam, and Christianity. ISIS thinks Yazidis should be enslaved and used as spoils of war.
But, there is good news in Iraq:
This led a group of Yazidi women to form a revenge militia against ISIS.
- It’s made up of 30 women, all Yazidis and Kurds from Iraq and Syria.
- Their sole mission is to get revenge on the jihadi fighters who have beaten, tortured, killed, and otherwise harmed women.
- It all started in 2014 when ISIS arrived in the town of Sinjar.
- The militants who tried to attack girls in their town were faced with women who took up arms against them.
The unit’s commander, 24-year-old Haseba Nauzad, was living in Turkey with her husband when ISIS arrived on Kurdish lands. She lost her marriage because she left to go defend her people instead to traveling to Europe with her husband.
She said, “We saw them acting in an extremely criminal way. They were harming people. They were killing people. They were beheading and they forced the girls to perform sexual acts. Therefore, as a Kurdish girl, I saw they were raping my Kurdish sisters, I couldn’t accept this injustice.”
These women are not afraid to break gender roles to take up arms. Nauzad said, “If a man can carry a weapon, a woman can do the same. The men are inspired to fight harder when they see women standing in the same battlefield as them.”
The women also have a special advantage on the battlefield. ISIS fighters are afraid of women because they believe “if they are killed by a woman, they will not go to heaven.”