The Amnesty International report is based on interviews with over 40 former captives who were among hundreds of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority captured by ISIS fighters in early August when the militants overran their hometown of Sinjar.
Hundreds were killed in the attack, and tens of thousands were either stranded in nearby Mount Sinjar or fled mostly to the Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq.
The London-based group said the captives, including girls aged 10-12, faced torture, rape, forced marriage and were "sold" or given as "gifts" to ISIS fighters or their supporters in militant-held areas in Iraq and Syria. Often, captives were forced to convert to Islam.
|'They seem to genuinely believe that it is their right |
to treat the Yazidi women and girls in this manner.'
"Many of those held as sexual slaves are children — girls aged 14, 15 or even younger," Rovera added.
Some captives took their own lives
Fearful of rape, some captives took their own lives — like the 19-year old Jilan, according to her brother and one of the 20 girls who were with her.
"One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes," said the girl quoted in the report. "Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful; I think she knew she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself," added the girl, who was among those who later escaped.
Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) patrol near the border between Syria and Iraq on Dec. 22, 2014. On Sunday, Kurdish and Yazidi fighters made gains towards retaking the nearby town of Sinjar from ISIS after breaking a months-long siege of the mountain above it.
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It was unclear how many Yazidi women were abducted, but Iraq's Human Rights Ministry put the number in the "hundreds." Amnesty reports said the number is "possibly thousands."
In an interview with CBC's As It Happens, Rovera said "the systematic nature" of the attacks amount to ethnic cleansing.
"The perpetrators are not only not trying to hide the crimes they are committing, but they are boasting about it," she said. "They seem to genuinely believe that it is their right to treat the Yazidi women and girls in this manner." And, indeed, they do have that right according to Mohammed who ruled that captured physical slaves could be sexual slaves at their masters will.
An October article in a magazine purportedly published by ISIS laid out in detail the group's ongoing effort to sell captured Yazidi "slaves" to militants in Iraq and Syria.
"They are acting with absolute impunity," said Rovera.
Captured during summer offensive
The Yazidis are a centuries-old religious minority viewed as apostates by extremists in Iraq. They have suffered religious persecution for generations because of their beliefs, which include some elements similar to Christianity, Judaism and other ancient religions.
The June onslaught by ISIS stunned Iraqi security forces and the military, which melted away and withdrew as the extremists advanced, capturing key cities and towns in the country's north. The militants also targeted Iraq's indigenous religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis, forcing tens of thousands from their homes.
Since then, ISIS has carved out a self-styled caliphate in the large area straddling the Iraqi-Syrian border that it now controls.
Alarmed with their advance, the U.S. launched airstrikes in early August on the militant-held areas in Iraq, in an effort to help the Iraqi forces repel the growing militant threat. Since then, some progress has been made on the ground by government forces, Kurdish fighters and Shia militias.