ISIS militants raping 8-yr-old girls, forcing them to convert to Islam

Thousands of Iraqi Yazidis have been forced to flee Islamic State militants.(Photo: Reuters)

Atrocities against women and girls at the hands of the Islamic State (IS) were exposed in a Human Rights Watch report published this week.

The advocacy organisation interviewed 20 Yazidi females in January and February who escaped from IS captivity and were living in a refugee camp in Dohuk, Kurdistan.

Half of the interviewees had been raped, with some suffering more than one assault by various IS fighters. Nearly all of them were sold or given to the men as wives, and witnessed other victims being abused. The 11 women and nine girls escaped between September 2014 and January 2015.

A local doctor corroborated the Yazidis' story, stating that of the 105 females she examined, 70 appeared to have been raped. More than a dozen medical workers, activists, and others also confirmed the accounts, and girls as young as eight years old were subject to sexual abuse. Praying to Allah and reading the Koran were also required of the girls.

"After we said the shahada [Islamic creed], he said, 'You have now been converted to our religion and our religion is the correct one,'" an escaped 13-year-old recounted. "We didn't dare not say the shahada."

Several persecuted females had attempted suicide during their captivity or witnessed suicide attempts. All demonstrated signs of emotional distress, and many had lost family members due to death or IS captivity.

"ISIS forces have committed organised rape, sexual assault, and other horrific crimes against Yazidi women and girls," said Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch Women's Rights director. "Those fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the unimaginable trauma they endured."

The organisation called for increased counselling for the women, sexual health services including emergency contraception and access to abortions, and support for the children born of rape.

Human Rights Watch insisted that the Kurdistan Regional Government has not done enough to assist the displaced victims.

"Yazidi women and girls who escaped ISIS still face enormous challenges and continuing trauma from their experience," Gerntholtz said. "They need urgent help and support to recover their health and move on with their lives."