ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Following a promise made four years ago, Kurdistan 24 correspondent Mahir Shingali fulfilled his vow on Saturday by marrying a Ezidi (Yezidi) woman, Viyan Shakir, who survived the Islamic State (IS).
“After I saw what happened to my people in 2014, I vowed to marry [this woman], a survivor of Da’esh, helping her rebuild her life and overcome challenges” the community faces, said Shingali, a Ezidi reporter with Kurdistan 24, who has been reporting from Sinjar (Shingal) and surrounding areas over the past few years.
The emergence of IS and its violent assault on the predominantly Ezidi city of Shingal in 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ezidis. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others moved to neighboring countries in the region or Western states.
The Ezidis experienced atrocities and mass executions at the hands of the extremist group for years after IS overran Shingal, forcing hundreds of thousands of the ethnoreligious minority to flee their homes. Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone.
IS subjected women to sexual slavery, kidnapped children into forced conversion, executed the men, and abused, sold, and trafficked girls across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
As the years go by “we see Ezidi women are still only now getting their freedom from Da’esh,” Shingali explained. “Viyan was in custody of Da’esh for one year.”
“After I met Viyan, I saw she was in need, that she needed a partner and support in her life,” he said. After she was released from Da’esh, Shingali recalled he could tell she was traumatized and had suffered “a lot at the hands of Da’esh.”
With her family and relatives in attendance, Viyan celebrated a new chapter in her life on Saturday.
“To be honest, I never thought something like this [marriage] would happen in my life. Something that I would feel very comfortable with,” Viyan told Kurdistan 24 during her wedding party in the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok.
“I am very grateful that, since I met Mahir [Shingali], I began to feel more comfortable as he helped me and took care of me,” she added.
According to the Kurdistan Region’s Ezidi Rescue Office, since it opened at the end of 2014, nearly 3,350 Ezidis who were captured and held by the families of terrorists have been rescued. IS kidnapped over 6,400 Ezidis.
“Many Ezidi women who survived still suffer from the brutality and trauma they faced while in captivity. They are unwell, psychologically, but thank God they at least survived Da’esh,” Viyan said, looking forward to a better future.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Rejin Ahmed)