A Yazidi Girl Who Chose to Die Rather Than Be a Sex Slave 

By Khalaf Dakheel

Jilan Barjas was a 19-year-old Yazidi girl. Full of spunk and charm and dreaming of the day she would finish school and and become a pharmacist, eventually marry and start a family of her own. She lived in a nice house with six brothers, three sisters and lots of love.

But, she would never become a pharmacist. Never have a family. And, she would never see her 20th birthday.

ISIS had arrived.

Alerted by screams, ringing telephones, and gunshots, the entire village began to flee at once, mostly on foot. As her family lived in Tel Azir, near Mount Sinjar, they were attempting to reach the relative safety of the mountain on foot.

But, before arriving, ISIS blocked the way and surrounded them. They were immediately asked to covert to Islam. Jilan’s father refused and before the entire family, Jilan’s father, four uncles, and two of her brothers were killed. Both brothers had graduated with medical degrees not long before their sudden deaths.

Picture of Jilan Barjas. Courtesy of her uncle, Ahmed Nayf.

Along with the entire village, most of the adult males were killed and the women and children were taken captive to be sold as slaves This was to be the fate of Jilan, her three sisters, Jihan, Xalia, and Alia; in addition to her younger brothers, and her mother. The only one spared was her brother, Hussein, who was 13 years old living elsewhere, helping an uncle who had 300 sheep.

The remaining family was immediately separated. Months later, word had trickled down to the remaining shepherd uncle that Jilan had been taken to Baaj where an ISIS leader took her as his own sex slave. Due to the constant rapes and pressure to convert to Islam and for the sake of Ezidxan and Tawsi melek, she had cut her arteries and passed. A long time after that, her sister Jihan, who had been taken to Raqqa, chose the same fate for the same reasons.

It took a little over three years to drive most of ISIS out of Iraq.

Now, at the time of this writing three-and-a-half years later, Jilan’s mother, two remaining sisters, and two brothers are living in a tent in Kurdistan. They have received no medical or psychological help. Like all others in the tents, they have little food, intermittent electricity, no heating oil in the freezing weather, and are suffering terribly overall.

Of the six boys, one was never captured and is safe, two were murdered, two were liberated, and nothing is known of the whereabouts of the last brother.


  1. Excellent article, Khalaf! It’s so upsetting what happened to the Yazidis and other minorities and it disgusts me the way ISIS views women.