Once again Lamiya Haji Bashar had tried to escape her tormentors. And once again, the Yazidi teenager had been caught.
A judge in Mosul’s sharia court stared at her. After being told Lamiya kept trying to escape – this time she had been caught leading a breakout of several other girls seized by the terror group – he made his ruling.
‘He said that either they must kill me or cut off my foot to stop me escaping,’
So how did she respond to such a terrifying sentence?
‘I told him that if you cut off one foot then I will escape with the other. I told the judge I would never give up. So they replied they would keep on torturing me if I tried to escape.’
She showed immense bravery, yet it was typical of this remarkable teenager. Eventually her life – and her feet – were saved by a senior IS official, who argued that she should be sold to a new ‘owner.’
Lamiya was one of the several thousand Yazidi women and girls condemned to sex slavery, traded like animals and abused by barbarous fanatics. Another year of fear, agony and assaults lay ahead of her, held captive by a cruel surgeon, who traded kidnapped women and children when not stitching up wounded jihadist.
But now Lamiya is free, though even her escape was etched in pain and tragedy. She was injured in an explosion that left extensive physical scars on her face to go with the deep psychological scars on her mind.
I met Lamiya in a quiet hotel in Germany, where this extraordinary, softly spoken young woman told me her story – a tale of savagery far beyond anyone’s worst nightmare.
She heard her father and brothers being shot, was enslaved by their cruel killers, and then beaten and raped for almost two years by a succession of older men.
During her time trapped in the IS heartland of Syria and northern Iraq, Lamiya saw children sold to old men as sex slaves, and she was forced to help make suicide bombs.
At one point Lamiya was thrown into a room to be gang-raped by 40 fanatics. Yet she never buckled. ‘These men were more than monsters,’ she says. ‘That’s why I stayed strong, because I wanted to challenge the life they gave me.’