For Ibtisam, a 15-year-old Yazidi girl, the six months after the Islamic State (IS) attacked her hometown could not have been crueler. Her mother and three younger sisters were taken from the village of Tel Qasab, near Sinjar, as spoils of war by the extremists, who control territory across Iraq and Syria. After five months in captivity, each day not knowing if they would live to see the next, Ibtisam was freed along with some 200 other Yazidis, most of them elderly, sick or disabled.
Two of her sisters, however, continued to be held captive. Asked why she thought they had been kept while she was released, Ibtisam lowered her eyes and stared at the floor in embarrassment. She paused for a moment before responding, “They were more attractive.”