Gang-Raped and Tortured by ISIS, Yazidi Sex Slave Marries 'Soulmate'

Published October 2nd, 2018 - 09:39 GMT
Farida Khalaf (Twitter)
Farida Khalaf (Twitter)

A Yazidi sex slave who was gang-raped and tortured by ISIS terrorists has married her 'soulmate' who helped 'put her back together again'.

Farida Khalaf, 22, says the most beautiful day of her life was marrying Nazhan Hassan in the German city of Cologne in front of 500 guests.

Farida, looking stunning in a hired traditional white lace gown and veil and wearing a traditional Yazidi red sash around her waist, told MailOnline: 'I never thought I'd be able to make a new world for myself, with love and happiness, after all that's happened. And yet now here I am embarking on the rest of my life with the man of my dreams.

 

 

'Whilst I was devastated that my father couldn't give me away, I feel like I have become part of a huge new family of everyone who has helped to make my wedding day possible. I can't thank them enough.'

Her husband Nazhan, 24, who travels the world with her telling her story to campaign for justice for the Yazidi people, added: 'I'm so happy, I've met the love of my life. I'll never forget this day.

'I'm so proud of her, she's such a fighter. Now we're planning a beautiful future together, where she won't ever have to go through anything alone again.'

Farida was 16 and dreamed of becoming a maths teacher in Kocho, northern Iraq, when everyone in her village was rounded up in August 2014 by IS.

She heard her father being shot dead. She was taken from her family to Syria, where she was held for four months and gang-raped and brutally beaten daily.

She finally managed to escape but felt so 'tainted' by her sexual abusers that she tried to kill herself several times. Her tormentors' attacks left her temporarily blind and unable to walk, while her skull was broken in three places. But then she found Nazhan and together they turned their devastated lives around.

Even all these years later she still breaks down every time she recalls everything that she has been through.

Yet she talks about her harrowing ordeal to strangers around the world, she has written a book called The Girls Who Beat ISIS and there is interest in her story being turned into a film.

The teenager was one of 7,000 Yazidi women and girls forced into sexual slavery when the militia took over her community's heartland in Sinjar, northern Iraq, and slaughtered around 10,000 people.

She was taken to Solag in northern Iraq where the pregnant and older women were removed and shot, with 80 of their bodies eventually found in another mass grave.

Farida lost her father and a brother in the bloodshed. Her mother, two brothers and 150 girls aged eight to 30 were taken with Farida to Mosul, with other Yazidis. She was separated from her family when she was sent on to Raqqa in Syria.

She told MailOnline: 'They did everything imaginable that you wouldn't want done to an animal. We were raped, humiliated and passed around daily. There were six men at a time.

'I tried to kill myself at least four times and I tried to escape. They beat me more because I challenged them and made them angry.'

After four months in captivity, Farida persuaded eight others to join her in fleeing through an unlocked door in a boarded-up Syrian house and even over a minefield to Kurdistan, northern Iraq, in December 2014. She was reunited with one brother there who'd survived the same mass shooting which had killed their father.

Six months later she was one of many Yazidis who were moved to Germany - with her mother and three brothers who had also escaped IS following several months later - and she met her fiancé there two years ago.

When Yazidi campaigner Saeed Sulaiman heard that the couple had no money to pay for their wedding he launched a Facebook appeal and raised around £5,000 from supporters around the world.

Groom Nazhan doubled the money collected to cover the cost of the event, around £10,000, and within just 20 days the wedding was planned and the couple finally exchanged their vows just days ago.

Saeed said: 'There are normally two singers at Yazidi weddings, but I had six asking me if they could take part in Farida's big day for free.

'A Yazidi businessman and a Dutch woman donated half of all of the costs.

'I've watched Farida crying and suffering hundreds of times as she repeats her tragic story, for the sake of all of the Yazidi people, including myself. So I wanted to make her smile again for her special day. Her smile and her happiness is the strongest weapon against IS.'

Farida is filmed on her wedding day smiling, crying with joy, doing a traditional Yazidi dance and holding her husband to applause from her wedding party guests – some who didn't even know the couple and who came uninvited from all over the world.

Nazhan continued: 'After all that we've been through, we haven't known joy like this in years.'

Farida – who still carries the name of her Iraqi village tattooed on her hand - added: 'I've had such a joyful day, something which I never imagined would be possible.'

She now campaigns globally for justice for the Yazidi people and for the preservation of Yazidi mass graves - to one day find the still missing remains of her father.

Nearly 3,000 Yazidi women and children remain in captivity and the U.N. has called the killings of thousands of Yazidis a genocide. Its Security Council is collecting evidence to use against Islamic State.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is pushing for the Islamic group to be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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