Agony of Yazidi women torn between IS kids, or return home

 

published : 14 Jul 2019

Yazidi teenager Jihan Qassem faced an impossible choice after being freed from years as a hostage of the Islamic State group, abandon her three young children fathered by a jihadist fighter or risk being ostracised by her community.

BAADRE, Iraq: Freed after years in jihadist captivity, Jihan faced an agonising ultimatum: abandon her three small children fathered by an Islamic State fighter or risk being shunned by her community.

“Of course I couldn’t bring them home. They’re Daesh (IS) children,” said Jihan Qassem matter-of-factly, sitting in a sparse concrete structure she now calls home.

“How could I, when my three siblings are still in IS hands?,” she added, highlighting the harsh reality that the children serve as constant reminders of the brutalities inflicted on the closed, tight-knit Yazidi community by the so-called Islamic State group.

Dozens of Yazidi women and girls systematically raped, sold and married off to jihadists after being abducted by IS from their ancestral Iraqi home of Sinjar in 2014 have faced the same gut-wrenching dilemma. What to do about the children born of these forced unions?
Now freed, the women are desperate to heal from the wounds inflicted on the conservative minority — but raising jihadist offspring would make closure impossible, they said.

Kidnapped at 13, Jihan was forced to marry a Tunisian IS fighter at 15 and then fled with him and their children from IS’s bombarded Syrian holdout of Baghouz four months ago.

When US-backed forces learned she was Yazidi, they whisked her and her two-year-old boy, year-old girl and four-month-old infant to a northeast Syria shelter hosting other mothers from the brutalised minority.

The safehouse, known as the Yazidi House, circulated her photograph on Facebook and her older brother Saman, still in northern Iraq, recognised his long-lost sister.

He wanted her home. But without the children.

After days of an anguished back-and-forth, Jihan decided she would leave her infants with Syrian Kurdish authorities in exchange for what she said was her real family.

“They were so young. They were attached to me and I to them… but they’re Daesh children,” she murmured.

She said she doesn’t have any pictures of her children and doesn’t want to remember them.

“The first day is hard, and then little by little, we forget them,” she said.

‘No one asks about them’

For centuries, Yazidis who married outside the sect — even against their will — were ex-communicated.

Girls forcefully taken by IS in 2014 risked suffering the same fate, but a landmark decree by Yazidi spiritual leader Baba Sheikh said survivors of IS’s sexual abuse should be honoured by the community.

That compassion however has not been extended to their children.

In April, the Yazidis’ Higher Spiritual Council issued an ambiguous decree welcoming “children of survivors,” sparking hope of a second reformation to accept those born of a Yazidi mother and IS father.

But a ferocious backlash from conservative Yazidis prompted the Council to clarify that nothing had changed: it would only welcome children born to two Yazidi parents.

Any further reform was seen as a threat, opening the floodgates of change to a traumatised community, said Yazidi activist Talal Murad.
“If there’s this kind of change in the creed, other things could change too — there will be a breakdown, a total collapse of the Yazidi religion,” said Murad, who also heads Ezidi24, an outlet covering Yazidi affairs.

Council representative Ali Kheder told AFP the debate wasn’t solely about dogmatic reform.

more:

https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1712352/agony-of-yazidi-women-torn-between-is-kids-or-return-home?fbclid=IwAR2hpbLoqdL5gVShNU6rsTykSBUWJDCxYee2oylGaoJc7BD0gyD33uAvdlA

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