Leyla Talo, a Yazidi woman who was sold by ISIS as a sex slave, recounted her story on BBC Arabic TV. In the program, she said that she had been sold eight times and had been held with her children in a separate room, often being beaten and starved. She further said that her children were brainwashed, and that by the time she was reunited with her family, her son believed that Yazidis were infidels. The program aired on September 21, 2018.
Following are excerpts:
Interviewer: "Could you tell us about your personal experience? This is another book with pictures that show you dressed in..."
Leyla Talo: "This was when the ISIS members were selling us in Al-Raqqa..."
Interviewer: "You were in a cage? You were sold in a cage?"
Leyla Talo: "No... There may have been women who were sold like this. They placed us in a market and sold us."
Interviewer: "You were in a market?"
Leyla Talo: "Yes, I was in a market with houses and merchants."
Interviewer: "And men would come to the market..."
Leyla Talo: "Yes. There was a hall where they put all the Yazidi women. They would dress us in dirty clothes, and many men of different nationalities would come. Every man would pick a woman and take her."
Interviewer: "How many times were you picked?"
Leyla Talo: "They took me eight times as a slave girl."
Interviewer: "You were sold eight times?"
Leyla Talo: "Yes, there's a market... Two people bought us. There were some who would take us in order to rape us."
Interviewer: "Your Arabic improved during those three years, because you met men and women of different nationalities..."
Leyla Talo: "Yes, there were men and women. Even the ISIS women came from all the countries of the world, and I was their servant, their slave girl."
Interviewer: "Your husband is still being held captive..."
Leyla Talo: "In the beginning they took my husband and my brothers, and after they took me into captivity I don't know what happened to the men. I spent three days with their Iraqi emir, and after that he said: 'I want to sell you. I will sell you or give you as a gift. Your two children will go with you.' Another man came and took me from him. He was from Mosul, and I was with him for a month. My children were with me. They always wanted to take my children from me. In all honesty, there was nothing I could do. I was locked in a room, and they were locked in a separate room. I didn't have my children, and they didn't even sleep with me. I stayed with this man for a month, during which time I was beaten, with no food or anything. I was his slave girl. This was during the month of Ramadhan. He forced me to fast and to change my religion. There were these types of things. After this month he said: 'I want to sell you.' I asked him: 'Why are you selling me? I will pay any sum you want. Just let me contact my family members.' He didn't accept this. He said: 'I will give you to another mujahid. That is better than giving you to infidels. Your family are infidels and you will remain our slave girl.' He gave me as a gift to another man. He was a cosmetic surgeon from Baghdad and an emir of theirs."
Interviewer: "A doctor?"
Leyla Talo: "Yes, a cosmetic surgeon. He took me one day... All this happened in Al-Raqqa. Every man who took me would take me to a different apartment. I was with this doctor for eight months. His name was Abdallah Al-Hashemi. I was with this doctor for eight months. His name was Abdallah Al-Hashemi. Honestly, it was hard for me to be with Abdallah Al-Hashemi, even though he is a doctor. You would think he would understand, and that he is familiar with the world and knows everything. Our lives were very difficult while staying with this doctor. Even my children were constantly beaten by him, and he didn't give us food. There was nothing that he didn't do to us."
Interviewer: "Did you feel that your children were affected by the atmosphere? Did you feel that your children were different from how you had raised them?"
Leyla Talo: "Of course. It was as if they were not my children. I couldn't smuggle them out of there. It was not an option."
Interviewer: "Who took care of the children?"
Leyla Talo: "We were in separate rooms. I would only wash them and things like that. I couldn't be involved [in their lives], but I was worried about them. They would always bring my children a laptop and show them videos, and they would give them religious lessons. I tried many times to run away with my children, because I knew that if my children stayed there, they would be brainwashed. Eventually, I was able to contact my family, and I told them that I would save my children even if I would die. If my children hadn't been with me, I would have committed suicide straight away."
Interviewer: "You would have committed suicide?"
Leyla Talo: "Of course. Many women did. Many Yazidi girls committed suicide in the hands of ISIS. They would sell them and rape them, so they would commit suicide. My children were with me, and my hope was to save them, so that they wouldn't become terrorists and be brainwashed."
Interviewer: "But how did it go with the children? Were they persuaded by the religions lessons? Did they consider Yazidis to be infidels, like they were taught?"
Leyla Talo: "Yes, my son would say: 'The Yazidis are infidels. My uncle is an infidel.' When I returned... When I first saw the Yazidi refugee camp, my brother told my son: 'These are Yazidis,' and my son would say: 'No, the Yazidis are infidels, and we need to slaughter them all.'"
Interviewer: "Your son said this..."
Leyla Talo: "Yes."
Panel Member 1: "How old was he?"
Leyla Talo: "He is now seven years old."
Panel Member 1: "So he must have been two or three..."
Leyla Talo: "Yes."
Interviewer: "Were they aware of what was happening to you?"
Leyla Talo: "They didn't know this. When they did things, I would tell them: 'Don't cause any trouble, because they will sell us and take you away from me.' They didn't know this."
Interviewer: "They lived in constant fear..."
Leyla Talo: "They did, but... Of course, their way of thinking changed, with all the weapons and the slaughter. They were taught these things."
Interviewer: "You said that you were sold three times..."
Leyla Talo: "No, more than three times..."
Interviewer: "Eight times. Pardon the question, but..."
Panel Member 2: "Were all the men Iraqis? You mentioned three, from Mosul, and Baghdad..."
Leyla Talo: "There were also men from Saudi Arabia and from Lebanon."
Interviewer: "Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Saudis... Did the price change according to how many times you were sold?"
Leyla Talo: "At first I was given as a gift, for free... Afterwards, with the Saudis... The Saudis had money, so I was sold to them. With Abu Hani, it was a religious marriage in an Islamic State court. He was Lebanese, and it was not a sale."
Panel Member 2: "He didn't want to do anything haram..."