Iraqi women are hostages of the conflict between kinship and belonging

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS/AFP) — The 18-year-old Yazidis have been forced to leave their three children, who have been married to a member of the organization of the Islamic state, to return to her family so that her community and community will not be deterred by her.

The same dilemma is experienced by dozens of Yazidi women and girls who had children of jihadis who kidnapped them in 2014 when they invaded the Sinjar area of ​​northwestern Iraq where a majority of the Yazidis live.

After the Iraqi forces regained control over the devastated area and the recent defeat of the Islamic State Organization in Syria, many women returned to their families as refugees, but they were in despair and pain as a result of wounds that had not been cured by rape, torture and forced marriage by elements of the Islamic state. Also, many of them live in a painful conflict as a result of their abandonment of their children, descendants of jihadists, who are totally rejected in the closed Yezidi community.

“I could not bring them home with them, they are children who are daft,” said Jihan Kassem, speaking of her three children, two boys and a girl, in an abandoned building in her fiancee, where she now lives with her displaced family in Sinjar. “How do I bring them here, my brothers? Are they still at the urging? ”

Cihan was 13 years old when she was kidnapped by jihadists. Two years later, she was forced to marry a Tunisian element of the extremist organization who gave birth to three children, and fled four months ago with his children after the bombing of the eastern town of El Bagouz, His collapse.

When the US-backed Syrian Democratic forces learned that she was a Yazidian who took her with her two-year-old son, her one-year-old daughter and her infant daughter to a Yazidi shelter known as the Ezidi House in northeastern Syria.

The “Yezidi House” published photos of Ceyhan on social networking sites. Her older brother, Saman, who is still in northern Iraq, managed to reach his sister and return her to her family.

But three other brothers of Jihan are still missing since the jihadists took control of their village in northern Iraq in 2014.

Jihan suffered a lot before making the decision to return, and was forced to leave her babies with the Syrian Kurdish authorities.

“They are young and they were very attached to me,” she says sadly.

“The first day was difficult, but we forget them little by little,” she said, noting that she did not keep a picture of her children and did not want to remember them.

– “No one asks about them” –

The Yezidi community rejects every woman who marries a non-Yazidi, even if she is forced to do so. For girls abducted by jihadists, the spiritual leader of the Yazidi sect, Baba Sheikh, issued a historic decree calling on society to receive and sustain survivors of sexual assaults by them.

But it does not apply to their children.

In April, the Supreme Yazidi Spiritual Council issued a vague statement welcoming the “children of survivors”, which raised the prospect of a second reform to accept the birth of a mother of a Muslim and a father of the Islamic state. But led to violent reactions among Yezidi conservatives, prompting the Council to make clear that nothing had changed, and that children born of Ayazid parents were only accepted within the community.

Yazidi activist Talal Murad says reform in this way was opening the door to change for a society that is still shocked.

“If there is such a change in religion, there will be a complete dispersion of the Yazidis,” said Murad, who heads the Yazidi website.

The director of the Supreme Council of the Yazidi spiritual council Ali Khaddar told AFP that the debate on children is not only about ideological reform.

“The Iraqi constitution also forbids this thing,” he adds from the council’s headquarters in Sheikhan. “Any child from a father who is missing or does not exist is automatically registered as a Muslim.”

According to the Islamic law, which is based on the Iraqi constitution, the religious affiliation of the person is inherited from the father.

Khaddar also points to psychological consequences, because the Yazidi community can not accept the children of jihadists who kidnapped and raped his daughters.

“So far, we have six thousand victims – Israeli girls and women – but by the way, no one is asking about them, and they are asking about children on the number of fingers.”

The Board does not have statistics on the number of Yazidi survivors with children of jihadist parents.

– Blood, flesh and tears –

Most of the Yazidi mothers left their children at the Yazidi House in Syria. But some of them brought their children with them to Iraq and refused to interview journalists because of the sensitivity of the matter.

After one insisted on her family to accept the raising of her infant from a lost, one-year-old jihadist father, she abandoned the idea when she realized she would not be able to obtain Iraqi personal documents because of his father’s absence.

That prompted her to give up her baby for adoption, says the doctor overseeing her treatment.

In another case, an 18-year-old girl arrived in Iraq last spring after being released and is pregnant in the last months of a jihadist.

Social assistance, which oversees her condition, says the young woman stayed for weeks in a safe house without the knowledge of her family until she gave birth and sent her child to a distant place before joining her relatives living in a camp for the displaced.

The director of women’s and children’s affairs in Mosul, Sakina Yunis, said five children from mothers of mothers and fathers of jihadists arrived last year to the orphanage Mosul.

The consequences of the psychological impact are likely to be long-lasting. Today, Ceyhan is shattered.

She described her children just weeks ago to a social affairs officer as “her flesh and blood,” saying she missed them.

As she spoke of her children with a conviction that they should be left to a certain extent, she had a shy smile on her face as she remembered them. At one point, she seemed to be crying silently when her brother left.

“If it were my hand, I would certainly bring them with me,” she says.

– “Genocide continues” –

The Yezidis say the events they have experienced are “genocide,” pointing out that it is the 74th event they have been exposed to in their history.

The fate of hundreds of women, children and men remains unknown despite the collapse of the “Caliphate” set up by the organization in its areas of control in Syria and Iraq, after the battle of the Baguz in March.

About 100,000 Yazidis, about a fifth of the minority before the war, went to foreign countries. While 360,000 people are still displaced inside Iraq because their villages are still under the rubble.

Sinjar is under the control of pro-government armed forces, hit by floods during the winter and fires in the summer season.

“Genocide continues,” says Khaddar.

Baba Shawish, supervisor of the Lalish Temple, the most important Yazidi sect, is blamed for the central government in Baghdad.

“The federal government in Baghdad knows very well that thousands of Yazidis are still prisoners, and so far no decision has been taken to arrest anyone who keeps Yazidis and is not cooperating with us,” he said.

Iraqi President Barham Salih proposed in April a bill to compensate Yazidis and a way to determine the legal status of children born of jihadists, but the parliament has not yet discussed it.

The Yazidis are frustrated by what they see as global pressure for religious reform and the reception of children born of jihadist parents.

Leading figures in the community have argued that the best choice for these children and their mothers is to migrate to Europe.

“The issue is very complex, and the most appropriate solution now exists outside of Iraq,” says former Yazidi MP Vian Dakhil. “In my view, the solution is to migrate women with their children to Europe.”

“I have warned for years that we will face this problem,” says Nagham Hassan, a gynecologist who has been involved since 2014 in treating a large number of surviving Yazidis. “Now the Yazidi community is shattered, and everyone wants to go to foreign countries.


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