Survival after Sexual Violence and Genocide: Trauma and Healing for Yazidi Women in Northern Iraq

Annekathryn Goodman, Hannah Bergbower, Violette Perrotte, Arun Chaudhary
2020 Health (Irvine, Calif.)  
In August 2014, the Yazidi community of Sinjar, in the Nineveh Governorate of Northern Iraq, was brutally targeted by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for annihilation through murder, torture, and the systematic and premeditated use of rape and sexual slavery of Yazidi women. In 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that ISIS was committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against Yazidis. Methods: Using current international
more » ... iterature, which includes reviews, qualitative interviews of survivors, and reports from medical and humanitarian actors, this paper explores the short and potentially long-term physical and mental health consequences of the extreme physical and sexual violence and atrocities perpetrated against Yazidi women. Results: Yazidi women survivors of kidnapping, sex slavery, and rape experienced significant levels of physical ailments, chronic pain, and mental health conditions. All women reported feelings of guilt, stress, insomnia, and severe flashbacks. The incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ranged from 42% to 90%. Sixty-seven percent suffered from a somatoform disorder, 53% had depression, 39% experienced anxiety, and 28% suffered from dissociation. Conclusions: Sexual violence against women is a common tool systematically employed during wars and genocide. In recent ISIS attacks, intentional perpetration of mass rapes of women and execution of men was a strategy to destroy an entire population. PTSD and depression are How to cite this paper: Goodman, A., Bergbower, H., Perrotte, V. and Chaudhary, A. (2020) Survival after Sexual Violence and Genocide: Trauma and Healing for Yazidi Women in Northern Iraq. Health, 12, 612-628.
doi:10.4236/health.2020.126046 fatcat:tltjsyzp4fc6piasbteqn3rhfe