Tragedy seems to always strike in numbers. This week the world shook when news came about the horrible shooting in Orlando at a gay night club that killed 49 people and injured far more. While my heart goes out to all of the victims and their families, there was another tale of horror overseas.
On June 6, 19 Yazidi women were publicly burned alive in Mosul, Iraq. The women were forcefully put in iron cages and burned to death by Isis. These women had been 19 of over 1,800 women and girls abducted by ISIS and forced to have sex with the soldiers. The women were burned alive as a way of punishing them for refusing sex with the militants.
According to Skye Wheeler, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, “The longer they are held by ISIS, the more horrific life becomes for Yazidi women, bought and sold, brutally raped, their children torn from them.”
Fox News reported that some of the women have even been put up for sale on ISIS social media sites. One woman was being sold for $8,000. A human life was being sold for less than a crappy used car, and yet this continues with little public knowledge.
It is stories like these that make my heart reach for women across the world. Just this year we were celebrating women receiving the right to vote in Saudi Arabia, and it becomes easy to assume that change is constantly being pushed forth toward equality all around the world. In America, women are fighting for the right to show their nipples in public, while we forget there are many places, such as in instances like this, where women are living under fear of being bought, stolen, raped, forced into marriage or burned for refusing to be a sex slave.
The United Nations and Human Rights Watch has demanded that ISIS release the girls, but I doubt the group will feel so inclined to do so. In the past, the United Nations has spoken out against ISIS and the way that they seem to be on the brink of completing a Yazidi genocide -- in 2013, five mass graves were found with the bodies of executed Yazidi people. And yet ISIS continues to capture and torture Yazidi men and women.
I think of these women and imagine how brave they must have been. Surely they knew that death would be the punishment for their actions, and yet they refused anyways. And their sacrifice has been heard. I hope that, if there is any, a silver lining can be found -- that with their deaths will come a greater public awareness of the lives of the women still in ISIS custody. The women still being used as sex slaves. And I hope this awareness breathes action into the lungs of America and countries throughout the world.