16-year-old Yasmin wanted to put an end to the repeated rapes she endured at the hands of ISIS militants, so she drenched herself in gasoline and set fire to herself to make herself undesirable. She knew that if she survived, she would be unattractive and the lechery would end.
"Now she looks like a zombie, and children cry when they see her," said Dr. Jan Kizilhan, a psychology professor and trauma expert who has worked with trauma victims in Rwanda and Kosovo. "It is so difficult to see what the fire did to her."
Speaking from a prison in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, ISIS member, Abu Chiad boasted about committing heinous acts in the name of Islam. He told Dr. Kizilhan that he felt no remorse in beheading infidels, and raping women and children, because it is his key to heaven. He believed in the ethnic cleansing that is intended to rid the mediterranean region of Christians, Jews, non-Sunni Muslims, and Yazidis.
According to Dr. Kizilhan, who is currently working to bring victims of ISIS, particularly women and children, to Germany to be treated, Abu Chiad equated raping Yazidi women and children to "killing a chicken." For Chiad, the victims are non-human. By dehumanizing their victims, ISIS killers are able to justify and rationalize their behavior, reminiscent of the mass slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust.
Duzen Tekkal, a German-Yazidi journalist, traveled to Iraq to film the documentary, Hawar, in order to raise awareness about the Yazidi genocide. Tekkal said that the children she interacted with no longer sounded like children, that they had in a way, lost their innocence.
"In one case, a 9-year-old said, 'Take me to be raped, not my little sister, please don't touch her, take me.' So they took the 6-year-old down the mountain and they raped her," Tekkal said.
Tekkal also noted that some of the children buried the memories of their rapes to the point of oblivion, referring to a 12-year-old who, despite denying having been touched was indisputably pregnant.
Tekkal commends Dr. Kizilhan for the work being done. "We need hundreds of Dr. Kizilhans to deal with all the wounds inflicted by ISIS," she said.
Dr. Kizilhan said that a survivor often asks how ISIS can commit such terrible things, and how people can be so evil.
"I ask the same question," he said. "Why is humanity still so evil in the 21st century?"
The suffering and trauma inflicted upon women and children by ISIS members is overwhelmingly abhorrent but what is most perplexing is the oblivion of the perpetrators who unflinchingly commit such brutality. These perpetrators have not only dehumanized their victims, they have dehumanized themselves in the process of committing horrendous crimes. They slaughter almost mechanically, churning out millions of victims.
As a generation of individuals who are well aware of horrors of the Holocaust, we cannot repeat the same mistakes. We cannot consign such atrocities to helplessness and insensitivity. Rather, navigating through a society saturated with such violence requires us to identify and understand the attitudes that permits the occurrence of such a tragedy. It requires us to confront, not simply emotionally but rationally, the industrial scale of the horror of the slaughters at the hands of ISIS.