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2015 (Narrative date)

 There are an estimated 520,000 people in enslavement in the Arab States. Within the region, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen had both the highest prevalence of modern slavery and the highest absolute number of victims, accounting for 76 percent of the victims in the region. There is an estimated 174,000 people enslaved in Iraq (GSI 2018). Women and girls have been kidnapped by ISIS. Bought and sold like cattle in markets, raped and tortured daily, they have experienced unspeakable horrors at the hands of their captors.

Noor is 22. She was kidnapped by ISIS in 2012, from Kojo in Northern Iraq. She was held captive for several months, suffering daily rape and horrific torture. Incredibly, she managed to escape and today, she is desperate to share her experiences and to raise awareness about the ongoing suffering among those who have escaped.

Just imagine for a moment that you wake up one morning and watch as all the men in your family are taken away. A few hours later you hear the sounds of machine guns and screams. 

Then imagine your terror as you, your grandmother, your mum, your sisters and your aunties, are herded on buses and driven away by the same people who took the men. 

Imagine then being sold at a slave market a few days later along with your little sister to a man old enough to be your grandfather, who is fat and ugly and stinks of body odour.

Finally imagine being raped by this man every day from then on, and when he’s bored with you, being turned over to his six guards to use as their plaything, to be gang raped after they’ve got themselves excited watching pornographic DVDs. 

It sounds like the worst nightmare any girl could have, but for me this was reality. This was my life just a few short months ago.

I lived with this horror for many long months until I managed to escape. I was determined then to tell anyone who would listen what happened to me and thousands of other women and girls - some as young as nine.

My name is Noor and I’m 22.  Until 14 months ago, my life in a small village called Kojo in Northern Iraq was pretty uneventful.  A bit dull, if I’m honest, but what I wouldn’t do now to go back to those days and to forget what happened to me after the 3 August, 2014.

I lived in Kojo with my mother, two sisters and eight brothers. We were quite poor I suppose and life was basic, but we were happy.  Then Daesh – that’s what we call ISIS - came to our village. Just about everybody in Kojo was Yazidi – an ancient faith – and one that the monsters of the so-called Islamic State believed should be wiped out.

What I wouldn’t do now to go back to those days and to forget what happened to me after the 3 August, 2014. 

We all wanted to make a run for it, but Daesh surrounded the village.  They told us to raise white flags over our houses and we would be safe. But then the fighters came to our doors and ordered us to hand over our weapons and told us we had three days to convert to Islam or we would be killed.

The Daesh commander, who called himself Abu Hamza, ordered all the villagers, men and women, to go to the school house.  As we walked towards the building there were some heavy digging machines being driven past us.  I didn’t know then, but I do now, that these were to be used to shovel the bodies of our men into their graves.

Once we reached the school, the men and women were separated, and the men, including my lovely brothers, were taken away.  Later we heard the gunfire.  I believe they are probably now all dead.

I can’t really describe how terrified all the women where after this. What was to become of us now?  We were soon to find out our nightmare was only just beginning.

We were pushed onto buses and driven away towards the city of Mosul. I was separated from my mother because married and non-married women are split-up in ISIS captivity. My sisters were also taken and we were separated. On the journey, the Daesh guards kept trying to touch us and we told them to leave us alone, but they just laughed and carried on.

Everyone was terrified. Girls were shouting, screaming and vomiting.

Finally we reached a big building, which had blacked-out windows, and we were marched inside.  There were hundreds of women and girls here. Then lots of soldiers came in and started arguing over who they would buy. Everyone was terrified. Girls were shouting, screaming and vomiting.

They kept us locked up and we were given just a few cupfuls of water and some horrible food. Finally, after a few days, I was sold to a big ugly man called Selman. He asked me whether I was scared and I told him I was. He laughed and said it wasn’t his problem. We were all Kuffars – non believers – so whatever he did was OK.

He took me to his house and told me he wanted to have sex with me.  I was so scared I said I had my period so I couldn’t.  He was angry and accused me of lying to him.  He said he wanted “proof”.

Selman had six guards and he said that if I didn’t have sex with him, he would give me to these men who would rape me. They were horrible and I pleaded with him not to do that.  Then he raped me.

 This happened every day from then on. He would go out during the day and return at night and rape me.  He made me watch his sex videos, he burned me with cigarettes on my shoulders, my stomach and my legs. Sometimes he dipped his toes in honey and made me lick it off.  Sometimes I was sick, but he didn’t care.

He ordered me to strip and then he opened the door and allowed his six guards in. They raped me all night despite my screams.

Worse was to come. I tried to escape one day and in revenge he did what I’d begged him not to. He ordered me to strip and then he opened the door and allowed his six guards in. They raped me all night despite my screams.

Imagine a young woman between six old men? Monsters. The next morning I was in so much pain I couldn’t move. I couldn't stop thinking about my mum.

A few days later I was taken to another building and sold to a man for about £100.  So my nightmare went on. I believed I would never escape from this hell. All I could think about was my mum and my family.  Would I ever seen them again? I knew I had to try and escape.

Finally I ran away one morning and banged on the door of a nearby house and begged them for help.

The house was owned by a young man and his father. I told them I was Yazidi and had been attacked, raped and held prisoner.  They were very kind and let me stay there for two weeks which was a very dangerous thing for them to do.

They made me an ID paper which said I was the wife of the young man and then they bought me an Abaya and Niqab to completely disguise my face and body. Then they drove me to Kirkuk where I was reunited with what was left of my family.

One day, I hope these Daesh animals will have to answer for what they have done in court. 

Since then, my days are spent in a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. I have some of my family with me, but I have no idea where my mother is - either Syria or Iraq.

I am grateful that my sisters also managed to escape, but the pain of not having my mum and not knowing what has happened to her will haunt me forever. We are extremely close. I cry a lot and wonder what the future holds for us all.

The international community calls the ISIS treatment of Yazidi communities a genocide of my people and they are right. They want to completely destroy the Yazidi people and our religion. 

Tens of thousands of our men are dead and more than 5000 women and girls are still held as slaves.

One day, I hope these Daesh animals will have to answer for what they have done in court.


As told to Harriet Hall of Stylist Magazine, ‘I was kidnapped as an ISIS sex slave’