Translated from Yeni Yaşam Newspaper
August 2014 represents a loss of life for all Yazidi women. Like many of my relatives and friends, I was captured after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked Sinjar. I remember the night we were taken from Sinjar to Mosul.
When we arrived in Mosul, dozens of women were imprisoned in a house. First of all, we had to wear a black burqa that covered us fully: only our eyes could be seen. Then, a man came to our room constantly: we all had to take off our burqas and he would point to a woman who he liked. She would be grabbed by her hair and would be taken out.
”I was sold for $250”
I was sold to Abu Hesen Al Manas for $250. A few days later, I was in Talafar with Manas. I was subjected to systematic harassment, rape and assault, with all my other female friends. In Talafar, I met an 18-year-old woman in Manas’s place. She was a prisoner with her brother before us and she was his religiously married wife. A few days later, Manas also had a religious wedding with me. About 26 days later, Fehruz (Manas’ first wife) told me that they could escape, that they had a small gun. Even the prospect of not being able to escape seemed more reasonable to me than this systematic torture and rape.
”I made a promise to myself at that moment”
I asked Fehruz to wait a few more days for my wounds to heal. I convinced Fehruz that it would be easier if I got better. Two days later, Manas brought someone’s head detached from her body. Fehruz was caught trying to escape. I made a promise to myself at that moment that I was going to escape from this place and seek justice for all the women.
I stayed for another 58 days before leaving. One day, I walked for 17 hours. I thought I was saved but my struggle had only just begun. I could not reach anyone in my family. After 84 days, I was far from the place I’d fled and kept thinking of Fehruz. And all the way I walked, I cried for Fehruz.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
I am in Norway now, and studying Creative Arts and Design at Bergen University. The betrayal of the regional government, the sacrifice and courage of the local defense units, the destruction of my community, my family and all women like Fatah, all are at the centre of my work.
I am sharing this article with you on the occasion of 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It is now inevitable that this struggle will reach its climax. In order to understand the scale of the struggle on 25 November, I have highlighted my experiences of struggle.
Systematic violence against women continues to increase all over the world today. Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Lebanon; Iran under its Islamic repression; Yazidi women who are seen as ‘war booty’ and women in Poland who have been stripped of their abortion rights. There are calls for the rejection of the Istanbul Convention, there is targeting of refugee women, especially from Kurdistan, who are subjected to intense violence by the state as well as social violence.
The male-dominated mentality
Women consist of 50% of society and sustain life. Today, the male-dominated mentality pursues the ideal of creating an obedient society. The main goal of these policies is to control the female body and sexuality and to strengthen male domination. We challenge male domination and violence. Our world will be without war and exploitation and it will stand for fairness and freedom, only by our hands.
It is essential that half of the money invested in war and military expenditures is instead invested in protecting women’s right to live and in increasing the number of women’s solidarity places and generating new employment opportunities for women. Women say once again that the decision of giving birth belongs to women, not states, governments or men. Only women can decide upon this. As women, we will not allow the state to use power over our bodies.
We state once again that we will fight against all kinds of sexist violence and inequality, war and exploitation. As the Kurdish poet Abdullah Peşew said: “Your seed does not grow in our field. It is doomed to die”. No one will die again, no massacres will occur, one’s smiles will not fade away. We will not mourn another person. We will run more for those who were torn from us! Fatah will no longer be captured! Manas will no longer be able to invade our spaces. We will not be afraid if the peshmerga leave us alone. We will defend ourselves, we will protect ourselves, we will keep ourselves alive!
Note: Sahar Ali is an activist from Norway’s Yazidi Women’s Solidarity Association.