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Yazidi Woman who Suffered 10 months as Sex Slave under Islamic State (ISIS) comes to Washington for Help

At least 9,900 of Iraq's Yazidis were killed or kidnapped in an IS massacre in 2014, according to international organizations

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FILE - Women hold a banner during a demonstration marking the first anniversary of Islamic State's surge on Yazidis of the town of Sinjar, in front of the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, August 3, 2015. VOA
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– by Rikar Hussein

May 29, 2017: 

A Yazidi woman who suffered for 10 months as a sex slave under the Islamic State group (IS) came to Washington to push for help for the traumatized, displaced Yazidi community in northern Iraq and the hundreds of others who remain in IS bondage.

Shireen Jardo, 25, met with several U.S. congressmen and federal officials along with Iraqi aid groups and media.

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“I told them to rescue our people and our land from IS,” Jardo said in an interview with VOA on Friday. “I asked them: ‘How much longer should we wait until we hear a word on our people who are still under IS?'”

Shireen Jardo talks about her enslavement by the Islamic State during an interview with Voice of America. She wears a poster with pictures of her three brothers and five other members of her extended family still missing in IS territory. Washington, D.C.,
Shireen Jardo talks about her enslavement by the Islamic State during an interview with Voice of America. She wears a poster with pictures of her three brothers and five other members of her extended family still missing in IS territory. Washington, D.C.. VOA

At least 9,900 of Iraq’s Yazidis were killed or kidnapped in an IS massacre in 2014, according to international organizations. While many Yazidis such as Jardo escaped, either through smuggling or ransom, rights organizations say about 2,500 Yazidis, mostly women and children, remain under IS captivity in Syria and Iraq. IS regards Yazidis as devil worshippers who have to convert to Islam or die.

Yazidi organizers say Jardo’s plight is emblematic of the broader suffering Yazidis have endured.

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“Her story is something everyone should hear,” said Nemam Ghafouri, the founder of Joint Help for Kurdistan-U.S., an American-Kurdish organization that supports displaced Yazidis including Jardo. “She was sold five times, each time for a dollar.”

When IS attacked Sinjar in August 2014, Jardo and 46 members of her family were taken as prisoners.

IS took them to its stronghold in Mosul.

“They separated me from my family and put me in a prison with 13 other young girls and two older women,”Jardo said.

Jardo was later taken with hundreds of women and girls to IS’s defacto capital of Raqqa in Syria where militants started pricing them based on their appearances as a preparation to be sold.

“One day an IS member approached me and told me I looked attractive with my gold tooth,” she said. “I pulled off that tooth right after he left and I was bleeding for hours afterwards.

As IS started taking young Yazidi girls to the marketplaces of Raqqa, Jardo says she used several ways to outsmart IS fighters.

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“I pretended to be completely mute and incapable of moving,” she said. “IS members did not believe me and started torturing me by using electric shocks and beating.”

As she attempted to keep up the ruse, “a group of IS fighters started firing guns around me and threatened to kill me if I did not talk,” Jardo said.

Ultimately, IS fighters were unable to put a high price on her because they believed that she was “a damaged good,” Jardo said.

But IS did not give up finding ways they could profit from her, Jardo said.

IS militants took her to a hospital in Mosul where she received unwanted surgery.

“I then screamed, ‘why do you want to kill me?'” she said, “They did not say a word and put me into sleep.”

When Jardo woke up, she found her stomach riddled with stitches.

“We don’t know why IS cut her stomach open,” said Katrina Kraemer, president of Joint Help for Kurdistan-U.S., who helped her get medical tests in Iraqi Kurdistan. “We can’t find that they removed any organs, so there is no explanation.”

Jardo said she was put into a house with some 300 disabled or sick people. She was later taken by some Mosul residents to a hospital for treatment after developing an infection from the surgery. The residents who helped her contacted smugglers, who took her to a refugee camp in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

There she became a rights advocate for hundreds of displaced Yazidis.

“With her recommendation, aid organizations provided 11 washing machines to women in the camp,” Ghafouri told VOA. “She also inspired Yazidi women to start a sisterhood program to share thoughts and ideas.”

Three of Jardo’s brothers are unaccounted for, she said.

“When Mosul was attacked, we were all thrilled thinking we will finally reunite with our families,” she said. “But Mosul is almost liberated now and we are still waiting for them to return.” (VOA)

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Abortion Rates Down To A New Low In The U.S: CDC

The CDC study also showed 91.1 percent of abortions performed in 2015 were in a woman's first 13 weeks of pregnancy.

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Abortion
A pro-choice supporter is confronted by pro-life supporters at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. VOA

A U.S. government agency said Wednesday that abortion rates among American women of all ages fell to a decade low in 2015, which both opponents and supporters of abortion rights attributed in part to individual states’ efforts to restrict women’s access to the procedure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that statistics for 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, showed the abortion rate was 11.8 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. That was down 26 percent from 2006, when the study began and the rate was 15.9 abortions per 1,000 women.

Teens aged 15 to 19 experienced a greater decrease than older women, with the rate falling 54 percent from 2006 to 2015, the CDC said.

“This decrease in abortion rate was greater than the decreases for women in any older age group,” the CDC said in a statement.

Reproductive Rights, abortion, women
A community health worker holds up contraceptives during a lecture on family planning at a reproductive health clinic run by an NGO in Tondo city, metro Manila. VOA

The CDC did not provide any reason for the decline, but abortion rights advocates attributed it to increased use of contraceptives as well as decreased access to abortion services in some states.

“Affordable access to the full range of contraception and family planning options is critical for people deciding if and when they’d like to become parents, develop their careers, plan for their futures and manage their health,” said Rachel Jones, a research scientist at Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group that supports abortion rights.

Opponents of abortion rights said the decrease was primarily the result of many states’ efforts to restrict women’s access to the procedure.

“That is due, in a significant way, to pro-life legislation that seeks to provide life-affirming solutions to abortion, combined with pro-life efforts that educate Americans about the effects of abortion and the humanity of the unborn child,” Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said in an email.

abortion
Outside Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. Saturday, anti-abortion rights protesters gathered, calling for to end federal funding for the organization. They were met in many locations by counterprotesters, including Evansville, Indiana, where an estimates 130 supporters turned out and about 60 opponents. VOA

Total yearly number sinks

The total number of reported abortions fell to 638,169 in 2015, from 842,855 in 2006, a 24 percent decrease. In 2015, there were 188 abortions per 1,000 live births, compared with 233 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2006, a drop of 19 percent.

In 2015, all measures reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis from 2006 to 2015, the CDC said of the annual study, Abortion Surveillance — United States 2015.

Conservative state lawmakers are passing increasingly restrictive abortion laws in a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision that established that women have a constitutional right to have abortions.

The Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives last week approved a measure that would ban abortions at six weeks, while an Iowa law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected is tied up in a court battle.

Also Read: Teens Still At Risk But FGM Rate Goes Dwown in Africa: Research

Such laws are designed to end up before the Supreme Court, which has become more conservative following President Donald Trump’s appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

The CDC study also showed 91.1 percent of abortions performed in 2015 were in a woman’s first 13 weeks of pregnancy. There was also a shift toward earlier abortions, with the number performed at six weeks or less increasing 11 percent. (VOA)