Yazidi women enslaved by ISIS say they didn’t agree to be in ‘Sabaya’ film

A promotional image from the documentary “Sabaya.” (Photo: MTV Documentary Films via The New York Times)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Yazidi women who were shown in “Sabaya” film about enslaved Yazidis by Islamic State (ISIS) militants said they did not agree to be in the film, New York Times reported.

The film, from Sweden, portrays the rescue of Yazidi women who were sexually enslaved by ISIS militants.

The acclaimed documentary won the prestigious Sundance Film Festival award for best director of a foreign documentary this year and opened the Human Rights Film Festival last month in Berlin, according to The Times.

Three of the women told the newspaper that they did not understand what the film’s director, Hogir Hirori, planned to do with the footage or were told that the film would not be accessible in Iraq or Syria.

Another woman said she knew he was making a film, but told him she did not want to be in it.

The New York Times said a Kurdish-Swedish doctor also made clear that she did not want to appear in the documentary.

“I told them I do not want to be filmed,” the newspaper quoted one of the women as saying. “It’s not good for me. It’s dangerous.”

However, the director, who is a Swedish citizen and former Kurdish refugee, said he had gotten verbal, written or filmed consent from all of the women identifiable in the film.

Hirori spent almost two years making the film in 2019 and 2020 and took several trips to Syria and Iraq.

“Some people changed their minds,” he told The Times.

The film depicts efforts to rescue Yazidi women by two Yazidi community leaders and guards at the chaotic and dangerous al Hol detention camp in northeastern Syria.

One scene in the film shows Dr. Nemam Ghafouri, a Swedish doctor who helped Yazidi women for years, according to The New York Times.

Ghafouri died in March after contracting coronavirus while reuniting Yazidi mothers with their young children fathered by ISIS militants.

One of her sisters, Dr. Nazdar Ghafouri, told The Times that there were text exchanges with Hirori still on her sister’s phone reminding him that she had not wanted to be in it.

The film touches on the highly charged topic of separation of Yazidi women from their children fathered by ISIS fighters.

Islamic State overran the Yazidi faith’s heartland of Sinjar in northern Iraq in 2014, forcing young women into servitude as “wives” for its fighters and massacring men and older women.

The militants shot, beheaded, burned alive or kidnapped more than 9,000 members of the minority religion, in what the United Nations has called a genocidal campaign against them. According to community leaders, more than 3,000 Yazidis remain unaccounted for.

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