By Emma Buchman
When I saw the story that ISIS is kidnapping Yazidi women and selling them as sex slaves or into arranged marriages I was not surprised. Horrified, but not surprised. The worldwide slave trade takes place everywhere, within both the legal bounds of nations and outside of them. Human trafficking has become a much-discussed topic over the past several years, and anyone that reads a headline about the most recent update on ISIS and doesn’t cringe needs to be evaluated. Most likely by some sort of higher power.
This was why I almost didn’t write on this topic. We all know the story of ISIS and its numerous crimes. As American citizens, we are already invested in the fight not only against ISIS, but against the moral depravity that it exhibits every day.
This obviously all changed one night when I sat down to write my weekly article. While there is not much that I can truly explore or inform you about this case other than what I’ve previously stated, as a human being I can share the pain that I feel not only for the women and girls captured by ISIS, but for the hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who have been displaced because of this conflict. And the first way to do that is to help fulfill a father’s wish to share his story.
In a recent article from The Guardian, journalist Martin Chulov described the agony of Khandhar Kaliph waiting for a phone call from his daughter. ISIS had kidnapped her during their occupation of Mt. Sinjar in Kurdistan.
Kaliph finally received a call from his daughter: “[Kaliph] nervously greeted his daughter… there was a minute of silence, before he broke down sobbing. ‘She said she is going to be sold as a slave this afternoon, for $10…What can a father say to that? How can I help? We all feel so useless.’”
This sort of thing happens each and every day, but there is something about a father crying for his little girl that breaks something in any and all of us, and I wanted people to know his pain.
Kaliph and his family belong to the Yazidi minority predominantly located around Mt. Sinjar. They fled to the Kurdish-controlled town of Dohuk, Iraq after the occupation of Mt. Sinjar. The Yazidi have been targeted and more heavily tormented by ISIS because they practice a form of Zoroastrianism and are perceived as “devil-worshippers.”
Meanwhile, those who managed to escape ISIS’ reign of terror on Sinjar are barely holding on. UNICEF published an article during the initial takeover of the Sinjar region back in August. As of Aug. 12, it was estimated that 5,000 families had entered the Nawrouz refugee camp in Syria. Sixty percent of these refugees were children. They were forced to walk for 20 hours or more in heat reaching113 degrees fahrenheit. Fifty children are estimated to have died from dehydration.
One mother of six named Roshan said, “We just want a safe place… All countries are in war. I am tired.”
Back in Dohuk, Kaliph said to The Guardian, “The world needs to know that is where our women are, where they are being enslaved, young and old alike.” World-wide awareness won’t get Kaliph his daughter back; and it won’t undo all of the pain that he and his fellow refugees have gone through. However, understanding what is going on enables us to actually do something and makes us more determined to help these people who have been pushed out of their homes and had their children taken away from them. While military intervention is not something that all of us endorse, it is clear in this circumstance what the US and other able-bodied countries need to do to save this minority.
This story reaches to the most human part of us and allows us to relate to those who need our empathy the most. While we can’t give them any physical comfort, that emotional drive could be all that we need to make a difference in their lives from so far away.
Knowledge is a powerful tool. Emotional attachment can be an even better one.