New trauma unit to help former Islamic State sex slaves

DOHUK, Iraq (AP) — After their rape and torture by Islamic State extremists for months or years, Yazidi women face ongoing suffering from psychological trauma even if they do manage to escape.

Until now, a lack of psychiatrists and other mental health specialists in northern Iraq meant that many Yazidi women — a minority singled out for especially harsh treatment by IS — got little or no help. That’s about to change with the establishment of a new psychological training center at the University of Dohuk in Iraq, the first in the entire region.

For Perwin Ali Baku, who escaped IS two weeks ago after more than two years in captivity, that can’t come soon enough. The trauma of being bought and sold from fighter to fighter and carted from Iraq to Syria and then back again weighs heavy on both her body and her mind.

Today, when a door slams, the 23-year-old Yazidi woman flashes back to her captors locking away her 3-year-old daughter, captured with her, to torment her. When she hears a loud voice, she cringes at the thought of IS militants barking orders.