Last month, the harrowing experience of a 19-year-old Yazidi woman, Ashwaq Ta’lo, was published. At 14 years old, Ta’lo was sold as a slave to an ISIS terrorist named Abu Humam, but soon escaped captivity and migrated to Germany. However, a few months ago, she was was stopped on the streets by the very terrorist who had imprisoned and violated her. As Ta’lo told the BBC, Humam first spoke to her in German, and then in Arabic, revealing all he knew about her life in Germany. Shaken by this experience, and faced with a police force reluctant to investigate her claims, she fled back to the Iraqi refugee camp in which her father lives.
Ta’lo’s story is one that has been heard several times, as other women terrorized and raped by ISIS militants have later encountered their assailants in Europe. As reported by Newsweek, Ta’lo had felt she was being followed, and thought she caught sight of Humam in 2016. According to Ta’lo, the German police were hesitant to deepen their investigation, as her assaulter was also in Germany as a registered refugee.
The Yazidis are a minority group who do not practice Islam, making them a consistent target of the Islamic State. In particular, Yazidi women often suffer brutally at the hands of ISIS militants. In recent years, thousands of Yazidi women have been captured, forcefully converted to Islam, and enslaved by the Islamic state. The Jerusalem Post explains that while Germany has accepted several thousand Yazidis into the country on humanitarian visas, it does not provide special protection to victims.
Germany’s inadequate assistance and bureaucratic practices have led to Ta’lo, a true victim of war, being further traumatized in a supposedly safe location, while inadvertently protecting her kidnapper. Although countries like Germany should continue to advocate for humanitarian polices and campaigns against war, these practices should not sacrifice the safety of women.
A 2018 German report was the first to correlate the mass immigration of refugees into Europe with rising crime statistics. Results showed that violent crimes, particularly robberies and sexual assault, linked to refugees and asylum seekers had increased every year since Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s open door migration policy was introduced in 2015. The inefficient handling of Ta’lo’s case illustrates a lack of appropriate services for ISIS’ victims and little consideration for women’s safety. It also highlights the fact that Germany is allowing suspected terrorists to reside within its borders.
German police have stated that they are continuing to look into the matter. With Ta’lo currently residing out of the country, investigation becomes further complicated. However, Ta’lo has stated that she cannot return to Germany, where the ISIS militant who tortured her still resides. Polla Garmiany, a policy analyst, has noted that strengthening EU borders through collaborating with Greece and Italy, where refugees flee to first, could mitigate the migration of extremists and suspected war criminals into Germany. It is necessary that services for war victims need to be reformed so women like Ashwaq Ta’lo can recover and be protected from facing further horrors of war.
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