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ICC Note: When ISIS swept through Iraq, it engaged in a genocide against religious minorities. Yazidi women were the primary target of their sex trafficking trade, but a number of Christian women were also kidnapped. Rita, who is from the Christian town of Qaraqosh, was finally freed from ISIS captivity this past fall. However, she has only recently been reunited with her father. It is unknown how many other women remain enslaved by ISIS.    

06/20/2018 Iraq (World Watch Monitor) – Rita, a Christian woman from the Iraqi town of Qaraqosh, was 26 when Islamic State invaded her town and took her captive. She was sold and bought four times as a sex slave before she was freed in 2017 and reunited with her father in April this year, almost four years since she was taken captive.

Although she had heard that Islamic State militants had entered Mosul, she was not aware that they were heading towards her home town, Qaraqosh (also known as Bakhdida), and other villages in the area. When she arrived in Erbil, taxi drivers refused to take her to Qaraqosh as they said IS had arrived there. However, she was determined and travelled on. Even the Kurdish forces (Peshmerga) could not stop her at the checkpoints she passed, although they warned her it wasn’t safe. When she arrived, she said she did not notice much of a difference, but then she saw people were leaving. Her neighbours told her that Islamic State militants were on their way. As her father was old, she did not want to leave him, so they could not flee.

Slowly the Peshmerga lost control over the territory and Islamic State moved in. The militants started to enter houses, breaking down doors, and from a speaker in the mosque told everyone to come out of hiding. They searched people for valuables and other belongings, and brought two buses for the elderly men and women.

They separated Rita, another woman and a little boy and girl from the rest, and took Rita to Mosul. They gave her a new name, Maria, and she was sold on the sex-slave market.

Her first owner was an Iraqi IS militant. Rita was terrified and, in shock, said she couldn’t focus on what was happening around her. Instead she said she moved around as if in a dream. It made her owner angry and he insulted her.

There was also a Yazidi girl in the house. Shatha, 14, was bought by the same man and he raped both Rita and the girl. They were held in a room and forced to watch videos of IS members killing people. One day he made them watch a video, showing IS militants beheading Shatha’s brother.

Rita said she was so traumatised that her face could not show fear. When her owner asked her if she was scared, she replied: “I am afraid of no-one but God.”

After six months she was sold to another IS member, a Saudi man in Syria, where she was emotionally and physically tortured by his Moroccan wife, who, Rita said, had psychological issues. She would beat Rita until blood would pour out of her nose and the wounds on her head. The woman insulted her and kept her without food, except for bread and water.

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