A Yezidi woman’s journey to freedom, six years after abduction by Islamic State

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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Thousands of Yezidi women were captured by the Islamic State group (ISIS) when they overran the district of Shingal (Sinjar) in  Nineveh province on August 3, 2014.

Rudaw’s Nasir Ali accompanied a Yezidi survivor as she retraced her captivity, visiting sites in Tel Afar and Mosul, before being welcomed back into the Yezidi faith in the spiritual heartland of Lalish in Duhok province. She now lives in Europe.


Hala was one of 3,548 Yezidi women kidnapped by ISIS six years ago. She was held in Mosul’s Galaxy Hall with hundreds of other women and children before being bought by ISIS militants, who subjected her to regular abuse. After several failed attempts, she escaped with her children after navigating minefields and reaching Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

“I was crying all day from morning to evening. I didn’t eat, drink or sleep. They would take my children away every morning. I would be left alone,” she said of her captivity.

“He said,’I have bought you. You are my captive.’ He said I was halal [a legitimate possession] to him and that he was free to do anything with me,” she said of her abuser.

Five members of her family, including her husband, are still missing.

“All those who were freed from ISIS have been impacted, because each day that passed for us was a new turn for death.”

Despite her ordeal, Hala was fully welcomed back into the Yezidi faith, and received a blessing in Lalish.

“You were abducted, oppressed and discriminated against all because of this religion. Therefore, we must accept you and see you as sacred people,” spiritual figure Baba Chawish told Hala in Lalish.

Reporting by Nasir Ali