Nine days in the Caliphate: A Yazidi woman’s ordeal as an Islamic State captive

When Islamic State fighters conquered the border region between Iraq and Syria, the Yazidi village of Kocho also fell into their hands. Twenty-year-old Nadia was among dozens of young women who were abducted and abused. This is the story of her ordeal.

During the ninth night of her captivity, Nadia seized an unexpected opportunity to flee.

Back on the first day, the men who kidnapped Nadia and the other young women as hostages and sex slaves had away taken their shoes. Escaping barefoot was out of the question. As the women could see from the windows, the surrounding terrain was rough and rocky, and they would end up with bleeding cuts and gashes all over their feet.

The house in which they were held captive had many rooms and the young women were frequently moved from one to another. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the frequent moves; they were apparently dependent on the whims of their captors. But in one room stood a wardrobe, inside of which Nadia found a pair of pink tennis shoes under some rags. Though they were a few sizes too small for her, they might just do.

Six men — her captors, rapists and tormentors — stood guard from day one. But on the ninth night, Nadia noticed that four of the men were apparently absent, perhaps sleeping elsewhere. Whatever the case, only two of the Islamic State fighters were sitting in the kitchen that night — and they were distracted. It looked as though they were arguing…

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