The forgotten cry of Yazidi women

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Originally published by Arab News

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On International Women’s Day last week, I remembered a quote by the late UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was known as the Iron Lady: “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” Last Tuesday, millions of women around the globe were celebrated by their families, friends and the international community for their achievements, strength and sacrifices.

Ironically, on such a wonderfully symbolic day, the world needed to be reminded of the Yazidi women’s forgotten cry. The members of this community have sadly become mere numbers occasionally mentioned by the media or on social media platforms.

According to Vian Dakhil, an Iraqi activist who was formerly the only Yazidi woman from Sinjar in the national parliament, more than 6,000 Yazidis — primarily women and children — were enslaved and transported to Daesh prisons, military training camps and the homes of fighters in Syria and Iraq, where they were raped, beaten, sold and locked away. For her courage and determination in the fight for Yazidi rights, Dakhil received the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award after being involved in a helicopter accident as she attempted to deliver aid to an embattled Yazidi enclave.

In a statement issued on International Women’s Day, Mir Hazim Tahsin, the chief of the Yazidis and head of the Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council, praised the steadfastness and patience that the Yazidi women have shown since their oppression at the hands of Daesh fighters during the invasion of the city of Sinjar in 2014.

Even though eight years have now passed, more than 2,500 Yazidi women still have not been located, according to Iraqi parliament member Mahma Khalil. The Kurdistan Democratic Party representative stressed the moral, humanitarian and historical responsibility of the government in Baghdad to stabilize the security of the city of Sinjar and grant the legitimate rights of the Yazidi women.

He told an Iraqi television station: “The holiday celebrated by global women is a day of sadness for their fellow Yazidis, who were treated inconsistently with the rights, freedoms and the narrative of all the women’s affairs international organizations. Otherwise, how could the world not be ashamed of the existence of more than 2,500 Yazidi captives, more than 100,000 Yazidis females and males in diaspora in various countries of the world and the huge numbers of displaced people, who represent a quarter of the number of displaced people in Iraq?”

Meanwhile, in downtown Sinjar, the Yazidi Women’s Freedom Movement celebrated the occasion with several hundred women performing traditional songs and dances. These remarkable, brave women and girls have succeeded in turning the city, which was totally under the control of Daesh mercenaries, into a center that represents women’s courage and freedom.

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