the rape of Daesh fighters. This also includes the decision to ‘accept’ Yezidi women back into society even after they have been raped by Daesh members. But we as Yezidis must also think carefully about that decision. Should such a decision even be necessary? Without such a decision, would it have been acceptable for Yezidi families to reject their own daughters, wives, or mothers because of the horrors inflicted upon them by Daesh? This could only be possible in a society where the value of women is extremely low, in comparison to international standards. We as Yezidis must urgently and forcefully improve the treatment of women in our society.
There are other instructive examples of religious and cultural oppression of Yezidi women. In many cases, Yezidi women will marry upon the decision of their parents. In some cases, the woman or girl will participate in the decision making. In many other cases, the woman or girl will have no choice. This has been a problem prior to the Daesh genocide perpetrated against Yezidis. Currently, early marriage and forced marriage are of great concern in the Yezidi community, including in the IDP camps. There are some unfortunate cases where young Yezidi women have burned themselves to death rather than live a life that is forced upon them by their parents. This trauma did not come from Daesh, it came from inside our own society. Therefore, this is something we Yezidis can and should fix.
We Yezidis have rightly appealed to the international community for aid and assistance during the attempted eradication of our people and the horrific crimes of sexual violence committed against Yezidi women. When young Yezidi women are forced to marry much older Yezidi men in the camp, we as Yezidis must think carefully about the image and the reality of our own traditions and work very hard to modernize our culture. If not, those who rallied to support Yezidis as an endangered, surviving community will notice the maltreatment and abuse of women existing within our own society.
Relatedly, in many cases Yezidi women are restricted from education at an early age. In the Yezidi community, there was and remains a great challenge for Yezidi girls to attain an education beyond primary school. Some families do not wish this for their young girls. This archaic practice should end. We Yezidis must begin to treat girls and boys as equals and help provide basic skills and rights to all of our children.
Another matter of concern to Yezidis living in the diaspora, especially Europe, is relationships with members of other communities. In Europe, there are a number of Yezidi men who have relationships, wives, and even children with non-Yezidis. This is generally kept quiet, as it is considered a ‘shame’ to be hidden. However, if a Yezidi woman would have a relationship with a non-Yezidi, she would be executed. This is a so-called ‘honor’ killing. This happened recently in Europe, where a Yezidi woman was shot in the face as a result of her relationship. In other cases, Yezidi women are lured to Sinjar, where they are executed far away from any rule of law. The double standard and the subjugation of women’s rights and the value of women’s lives compared to men’s is stark. We as Yezidis, especially those of us who live in the Western world and understand international law and human rights, must think very carefully about these old traditions and how to change them to fit in with the current times, laws, and norms. Yezidi family members exiling or executing women in the community is never, ever acceptable.
Of course, many other communities in Iraq face similar problems in terms of oppression of women and gender rights. But we are concerned specifically with the Yezidi community, and the fact that