We call her “Bazi”. ISIS militants captured her from her village in Sinjar, northern Iraq, and forced her to be their sex slave.
Her story is unique because she was the first Yezidi to implicate an American in her enslavement. When we met her, she shared the harrowing account of being held hostage by ISIS militants and how she escaped.
To us, she is a “Brave One.” And I knew her story must be told.
“They fed us rice with pieces of glass in it to make our insides bleed. They called us infidels and devil worshippers and said we deserved to be treated like nothing because we were Yezidis,” Bazi recounted.
Sadly, Bazi was not alone. Nearly 6,000 women and girls were captured by ISIS and forced into sexual slavery when they invaded northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. Thousands of their brothers, fathers and sons were brutally murdered and left in 18 mass graves that line their once peaceful village.
Hardwired’s local partner in Iraq was one of the Yezidi leaders rescuing the girls held by ISIS. As we met with him, another Yezidi girl being held hostage called him. She cried on the phone as she said, “Help me, please. Drop bombs on us, but please just help us. Put an end to our suffering.” She wanted to know if anyone could hear her and help.
We had to act immediately to give these girls a voice.
Hardwired brought Bazi to America to share her story (view video above) and call upon legislators to prosecute the Americans and others complicit in the trafficking and sexual enslavement of these women.
We arranged for Bazi to testify before the United Nations, national media, and before a closed panel in the U.S. Congress where she pleaded for something to be done for the thousands of young girls who couldn’t escape.
Bazi represents the thousands of young girls and women who fought against such evil. She is a “Brave One.”
Her voice was heard.
One legislator we worked with wrote a resolution, declaring the attack on the Yezidi and Christian communities genocide. Another wrote legislation to prosecute the members of ISIS responsible for it.
Still, that wasn’t enough.
We understood that to truly help Bazi and the thousands of other “Brave Ones” and their suffering families, we must address the root cause of the problem – the attitudes and beliefs that led ISIS to attack people who didn’t believe like them, and the failure of their government to protect them.
Then, for the first time, we were able to bring leaders from the different religious and ethnic communities across Iraq together to learn about the rights they have, regardless of their differences. And we equipped them to share this message with their communities.
We worked with Kathy Ireland, the former supermodel and businesswoman, to launch a campaign called “Brave Ones.” Through this campaign, we were able to raise support to provide educational materials to the families who lost loved ones and the girls who escaped about their rights and dignity.
The leaders we trained went back to their communities and distributed the books, teaching their communities about the dignity, value, and rights they have.
It was the first time the people of Iraq had ever heard they had rights and deserved to live with dignity and freedom no matter their beliefs.
Through the Brave Ones campaign, communities ravaged by hate and violence began to find hope once again. They fought to be recognized by the government – and they won!
For Bazi and many of the other Brave Ones who came face to face with ISIS, they found dignity and hope in the knowledge of their rights.
Bazi knew she deserved to be treated with dignity and have the freedom to worship however she wanted – no matter what ISIS told her. But no one had ever taught her these rights were already protected. That is where Hardwired’s unique training strategy has helped women like Bazi restore their dignity.
When you donate to Hardwired, you are putting a leader – a Defender of Freedom – into this situation to help Bazi and the other women and families affected by ISIS understand their right to be free to worship and practice their faith.
Thank you for making this possible.