What To Do with Yazidi Children?

The point is that the Yazidi Spiritual Council, the highest religious authority for the Yazidi people who live primarily in Iraq and Syria, say that children born of rape of Yazidi women by ISIS fighters are not Yazidi and cannot return home with their mothers. In the religious understanding of this relatively small sect, only a child with two Yazidi parents is Yazidi.

In the late summer of 2014, Yazidi women and girls began escaping the Islamic State in small numbers. It became clear that Yazidi doctrinal changes would be necessary to allow them to reintegrate. Previously, anyone who married or had sex outside the faith would have been excommunicated or worse. Baba Sheikh, a prominent member of the spiritual council, issued a decree at the time that said female survivors should be welcomed back because they were seized against their will. The decree eased the massive challenge of reintegration—but some stigma still clung to returning survivors

Conservative Yazidis think that accepting children born in captivity will dilute the purity of the Yazidi bloodline. They view the children as the physical manifestations of their fathers’ crimes. One Yazidi man wrote on Facebook: “The blood of these children isn’t pure and shouldn’t be mixed with the blood of the Yazidis.” A Yazidi who lost 23 members of his family in the 2014 attack wrote, “We as families of the victims should be able to decide not to welcome these children.


There is so much cruelty in the world.

There is no good solution here, not for these children, or their mothers, or the Yazidi people. Formerly captive and brutalized Yazidi women will be forced to choose between their families, their culture and homeland, their religion, and their children.

How can any mother do that?

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