The Unheard Stories of Enslaved Women Forced to Marry Islamic Militants

“I thought they would rob them. Steal their phones or something like that,” says Amsha, an Iraqi woman recounting what happened to the men of her town in northeast Iraq when the Islamic State fighters attacked last August.

Thousands had fled to nearby mount Sinjar, but those who weren’t fast enough faced a brutal fate.

“The men were then separated from their families and we were forced to follow orders from these men who had just captured the village,” she recalls. “They were told to lie down and face the ground. My husband and brother-in-law laid there shoulder to shoulder.”

“They killed them” she says. “They shot them in the head, one by one.”

After Amsha witnessed her husband’s death, she was forced alongside other women and girls into one of several minibuses that brought them to Mosul, the Iraqi stronghold of the self-proclaimed caliphate.

During its wave of assaults in and around Sinjar that began on August 3, Islamic State fighters killed scores or even hundreds of male Yazidi civilians, then carried off their relatives, the United Nations and local and international human rights organizations has reported.

Forced to Become the Wife of Her Captor

But it gets worse.

The group has systematically separated hundreds of young women and teenage girls from their families in northern Iraq and has forced some of them to marry its fighters. The group has also taken away boys and forced captives to convert to Islam.

While the world has been justifiably shocked by the beheading of a few westerners by the Islamic State fighters, not enough attention has been paid to the plight of thousands of men either murdered or forced to convert to Islam or the thousands of women and children who has been made into slaves and forced to marry their captives in Iraq and Syria.

Why is this happening to these women?

Taking Women as Concubines — Part of an Ancient Tradition

According to The Guardian:

Isis said in an online article that it was reviving an ancient custom of enslaving enemies and forcing the women to become wives of victorious fighters.

‘One should remember that enslaving the families of the [non-believers] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the sharia, that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Qur’an and the narrations of the prophet,’ the article said, adding that mothers were not separated from their young children.

Human Rights Watch has documented in detail what has happened to the Yazidi and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria:

“The Islamic State’s litany of horrific crimes against the Yezidis in Iraq only keeps growing,” said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch. “We heard shocking stories of forced religious conversions, forced marriage, and even sexual assault and slavery – and some of the victims were children.”

The World Needs to Pay Attention

Yes, those beheadings were shocking, but why are we not hearing more about the horrific crimes that the Islamic State is committing against the men, woman and children of Iraq and Syria? The Islamic State has killed hundreds of men, made hundreds more convert to Islam, and forced women and children to marry their captors. More than 500,000 Yazidis and other religious minorities have fled these assaults since August.

Why is the world not paying more attention to this situation? Or for that matter, to how Ebola is devastating some west African countries, particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone? The citizens of the west apparently care far more about whether one or two brave nurses or doctors returning from these countries might be putting them at risk than they do about the almost 5,000 people who have already died from this devastating disease.

What’s happening to the women who have been captured by the Islamic State fighters is truly horrific, and the world needs to pay attention.

Photo Credit: Human Rights Watch via YouTube


Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven9 months ago

thanks for sharing.

feather w.
Feather W3 years ago

Thanks for this, it is a story that needs reporting...

Mandy H.
Mandy H3 years ago

I'm not sure why everyone is so shocked that they're forcing women and girls to marry their fighters, that tradition is even older than Islam. Ancient Greek warriors did the exact same thing, killed any men who were to old to convert to their side, took woman from their husbands and forced them into marriage, and separated children into males they could train to fight and female slaves. How is it that no one expected this to be happening? Are you all really that ignorant?
The Western world is playing attention to what the IS nutters are doing, however because they're a threat to our countries there is a very selfish policy of protecting our countries before we go barging into someone else's country. Australia has sent air bombers and the like assistance but we are more focused on trying to protect the people in our country from the IS. The simple sad truth is with the current threat level of IS most countries are only out to look after themselves rather than anyone else. It's pure self interest.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F3 years ago

good info

Anna Undebeck
Anna U3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Brian F.
Brian F3 years ago

Certainly the west has many problems of their own, but Islam also has some very disturbing problems. While these ISIS thugs are not representative of mainstream Islamic thinking, most followers of Islam have very disturbing beliefs. In most Muslim countries, Muslims cannot marry non Muslims. Leaving the religion is punishable by death. Children are indoctrinated to hate all Jews and non Muslims. Anyone who speaks badly or insults Mohamed, can be executed. Women are not allowed to drive, and forced to cover up their faces. Women are not permitted in Mosques. Islam teaches Muslims that all non Muslims are criminals, and must be hated. Christian churches are not allowed in many Muslim countries. Islam is not a religion of peace, but one of intolerance and barbaric cruelty. The West must wake up to this evil, religion, and not allow it to spread and take over the world.

Dave C.
David C3 years ago

its sad how unholy deviant followers of religion can behave.....any religion......

sad the world of the future as long as fanatics of any faith or nationality believe "our way is the only way"......

pam w.
pam w3 years ago

"Isis said in an online article that it was reviving an ancient custom of enslaving enemies and forcing the women to become wives of victorious fighters."

Yes....''ancient customs'' like stonings, beheadings and enslavements. How very ENLIGHTENED of them.

Kathy G.
Kathy G3 years ago

The problems is the middle east are taking the world back to the dark ages. This belief in what I do or DIE mentality is the ultimate of bullying and must be stopped. Shame on them but shame on the world for not standing up against them.