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Girls & Women

Dozens of Yazidis Are Now Free From the Islamic State in Iraq

Dozens of Yazidis enslaved by the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq are now free, the UN says.

In all 36 men, women, and children who were held prisoner have been taken to Dohuk in Kurdish northern Iraq, where they were reunited with family members and received medical and psychological treatment, BBC reports.

The UN declined to clarify whether they were freed or escaped to avoid compromising future releases.  

Take Action: Urge Governments to Amend Their Laws Relating to Rape, Sexual Violence and Abuse

The Yazidi, who combine religious elements from several ancient Middle Eastern religions, are regarded as devil-worshippers by IS, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. The mass killings and torture of the Yazidi people by IS amounted to genocide, the UN said last June.

It is estimated that 1,500 Yazidis are still enslaved by the Islamic State.

Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who was abducted by the Islamic state 2014, raped, and forced into sex slavery before escaping three months later, has become one of the world’s greatest advocates for the Yazidi people. Six of her family members remain captives of IS.

Last September, Murad was named a UN Goodwill Ambassador. One month later, she was instrumental in Canada’s decision to accept Yazidi refugees.

Read More: Global Citizen Supports Amal Clooney’s Push for the UN to Try ISIS for Yazidi Genocide

In addition to supporting victims, Murad has called for IS to answer for its crimes.

With human rights attorney Amal Clooney at her side, Murad criticized the UN at its headquarters in New York last March, for failing to take effective action against IS.   

“It is very hard to come here every time, and nothing tangible takes place,” Murad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation after her speech. “It’s very hard for the victims as well to hear there is no progress.”

Read More: Escaping Sex Slavery to Protect Yazidi Women, Nadia Murad Tells Her Story

Thousands of women and girls, some as young as 9 years old, have been sold into sex slavery by IS, and many still remain captured.

But whatever the exact number that are enslaved, there are now 36 fewer – and that’s something to be hopeful about.