In our ongoing coverage, support of, and solidarity with the thousands of Yazidi women and girls sold and captured as sex slaves. We continue to call for the immediate release of the captured 3,000 women.

Photojournalist Paula Allen and filmmaker Taylor Krauss traveled to Kurdistan in November/December 2016 and visited with Yazidi refugees. Since that trip, Paula has visited Vian Azdihar, their translator, who has since relocated to Nebraska.

Following is a blog from veteran photojournalist Paula Allen:

In August 2014, ISIS invaded and conquered the villages on the southern flank of Mount Sinjar, in Kurdistan. They targeted the Yazidis, a Kurdish ethno-religious community, for extermination, labeling them infidels. They abducted women and girls, held them in cages, and sold them as sex slaves. The capture, torture and enslavement of these women is ISIS’s plan to wipe out the Yazidis. Imprisoned for months, thousands of Yazidi women and girls suffer horrific and prolonged sexual abuse as they are beaten, set on fire, and exposed to daily rape and torture. Many commit suicide in order to escape the horrors of captivity.

In November and December 2016, filmmaker Taylor Krauss and I went to Kurdistan to report for the One Billion Rising blog. We traveled into the Shingal mountains where thousands of people had fled ISIS, to the Yazidi sacred shrines of Lalish and Sherfadin, and to the camps where many of the women are living where we met with Yazidi girls who had escaped captivity.

Most Yazidi will never have a home to go back to – their villages were bombed or destroyed. The only safe option for now is to leave all together, to establish new lives in Germany or in the United States.

We traveled with one Yazidi woman, Vian Azdihar to the village where she spent her youth, which had been liberated from ISIS only days before. Vian had worked for the past two years in the town of Duhok located near to the Yazidi Khanke IDP Camp documenting women returning from ISIS captivity. Vian and her husband, Nizar successfully relocated to Linclon, Nebraska in February of this year.

The Yazidi women have answered one of the questions we went in search of: What do you need? A place. A community. Home. Safety. Healing. Childcare. Counseling. Literacy classes. Work. A purpose. With the logistical support of Nemam Ghafouri(in Kurdistan) and Vian (from the U.S.) and the support of V-Day and OBR, they will be able to start the process of providing an area in the Bajed Kandala 2 Camp where the women will have a safe place that will be their own. It will be made up of cabins decorated by the women with rugs and pillows and fabrics. It will have a bathroom area for privacy and GYN care, a garden and a kitchen. In addition, there will be activities for mothers and their children, including visits to Lalish and other places of tranquility, along with events that promote sisterhood and community.

– Paula Allen

(CLICK images in the gallery to enlarge individual photos and view captions)

Photos by Paula Allen

Additional Reading

“Bureau of Sex Slavery” by Eve Ensler (The Nation)

“Nadia Murad – The 100 Most Influential People” by Eve Ensler Time

#StopYazidiGenocide Images of Solidarity Coming in from Around the Globe!

Photo Blog: Activists Are Rising Around the World to #StopYazidiGenocide on the Second Anniversary