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Rogeline R.


Block B


Slaves of ISIS: the long walk of the Yazidi women

The article was all about the turmoil experienced by the Yazidi women in the hands of the ISIS. Women
over the age of 8 were abducted for the purpose of institutionalized rape and men were massacred in
order to gain supremacy. One of the Yazidi women survivor lived to tell the tale of their captivity. The
terror she experienced and the other Yazidi women were vivid. In her story, she told how they were all
kept in a cellar and treated as if they were cattle; sold off and used as a sex slave. ISIS justified such act as
a reward for the fighters of the war, where disobedience is punished through organized gang rape. Yazidi
women lived in fear with some slitting their throats or hanging themselves as their means to save
themselves from being raped while others try their hardest to look less or not attractive at all by putting
ash on their hair and face. It was inhumane as they were treated like filth, just like the cellar where they
were kept.

The ISIS committed crimes in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) namely
freedom of religion, genocide, right to life, liberty, and property, slavery, rape and other crimes against
humanity. The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) also known as the law of war or armed conflict
provides that “Conflict is by its nature chaotic, and it is incumbent on the participants to reduce that chaos
and to respect international humanitarian law.” Clearly, it connotes that effects of armed conflict should
be limited and restricts methods of warfare where protection to those persons who are not or no longer
participating in the hostilities are sustained. This justifies the infraction ISIS made when they massacred
and made into sex slaves the Yazidi.

Such acts of terror against civilians are prohibited by International Law where international agreements
all prohibit the use of violence against civilian populations with intent to cause terror. ISIS committed
widespread attacks against civilians, slavery, pillaging and involvement of children in armed conflict as
well as multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Yazidis and many more. Such acts
violated Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 applicable for situations of non-
international armed conflicts such as ISIS. Such provision of the International Convention prohibited any
derogatory act against civilians and requires humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, without
adverse distinction.

Given the crimes that ISIS committed, it can be argued that it has also breached the Customary
International Law with regards to the violations of the general principles and rules of protection of victims
of internal armed conflict, and for breaching certain fundamental principles. ISIS being non-state actors
can be bound by Customary International Law (CIL). Although being that Customary International Law is
an unwritten rule, it shall be examined separately as a source of law underlying all branches of
international law. It is suppletory in character as it may also fill gaps in written laws.

However, use of the Customary International Law (CIL) may have a downside. Being that it is an unwritten
international law, it can more easily evolve together with common state practice that may actually
contribute to the breach of international law. This is by far possible considering the fact that the presence
of terrorists such as ISIS limited and highlighted several problems over the effectivity of international law.
An example of which is the dichotomy jurisdiction between national and international law, that without
a coherent approach, may risk fragmenting the law relevant to the prosecution of ISIS members.