1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 105

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

Plight of Yazidi Women

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on the plight of the Yazidi women and the difference a few Canadian women can make in their lives.

As the battle against ISIS continues, the Yazidi, a small religious group from Sinjar, Iraq, still feel the horrific impacts from ISIS brutality. Some 3400 Yazidi women and children still remain in ISIS captivity as sex slaves or to be made into future fighters. Meanwhile, 90 per cent of the entire Yazidi population is displaced in refugee camps around the world.

As the plight of the Yazidi continues, many Canadians have taken action to help the Yazidi people. Last August, I joined Christine McDowell, who with others led the fight to convince our government to give asylum to Yazidi women.

On February 24, I joined Remember Our Sisters Everywhere for our discussion circle in Vancouver where we discussed a wide variety of issues related to the plight of the Yazidi women. Once again, I learned how a few Canadian women, such as Christine McDowell, Lianne Payne, Krista Marshall, Moira Simpson, Leslie Timmins, Elinor Warkentin, Mia Edbrooke and many others could change the lives of many women.

Honourable senators, what I saw there was a reflection of a great Canadian value. Compassionate Canadians do not turn their backs when they see people suffering worldwide. Instead, they take the initiative and help those in need. I am pleased to see this reflected by the government as it commits to accepting Yazidi refugees. Four hundred women and families are here and more to come soon.

This program will also aim to help keep families together, to assist their adjustment to Canada and heal from the trauma they have suffered.

Honourable senators, let me share with you what I heard from one young woman in my travels. I met a young woman who is a 14-year-old Yazidi girl. When I saw her, she had many physical injuries and, of course, emotional wounds. She was very fragile and her eyes were very sad.

This is what she said: One day, men had suddenly arrived at their home. They took her grandfather, father, uncles and brothers. They took them outside the house and killed them in front of all the women and children. Then the women and the very young children were taken away by these men. The young girls were then dragged into a van and driven away for many hours. The young girl I met was taken into a dark room where she was sexually assaulted once, twice, many times by many different men. This went on for days. Then she was taken to the market and sold to a man who was brutal to her. One day she escaped.

There is a lot more she said to me. When I met her she had lost her family and everything and had nowhere to go. She had no home to go.

Christine McDowell and other Canadian women cannot give back her family, but they are trying to give her a home. I thank our government, and I thank these women for standing up and speaking up for Yazidi girls. Thank you.