Dozens of young women and girls from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State terrorist group have committed suicide, or tried to, reveals a disturbing new report from rights group Amnesty International.
On Tuesday, the London-based rights group released a report titled "Escape from hell: Torture, sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity in Iraq," which details the horrific plight of hundreds of Yazidi females who have faced torture, rape, forced marriage and were "sold" or given as "gifts" to IS militants in Iraq and Syria.
"Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in ISIL captivity," Amnesty's Senior Crisis Response Adviser, Donatella Rovera, said in a statement.
"Many of those held as sexual slaves are children, girls aged 14, 15 or even younger,'' Rovera added.
Between September and November 2014, the watchdog interviewed 42 Yazidi women and girls who had managed to escape from the Islamic State extremists.
The trauma and sexual abuse suffered by the women and girls in captivity could drive them to suicide, says Amnesty, citing the story of Jilan,19, who took her own life while being held captive in Mosul, as she feared she would be raped.
"One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes. Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful," Luna, one of the girls who were locked in a room with Jilan, told the organization.
"I think she knew she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself," added Luna, who later escaped the militants.
Wafa, a former captive, told Amnesty how she and her sister attempted to end their lives after their captor threatened them with forced marriage.
"We tied the scarves around our necks and pulled away from each other as hard as we could, until I fainted... I could not speak for several days after that" Wafa said.
Amnesty also recounted the story of 16-year-old Randa, who was abducted with her family and raped by a man twice her age.
"It is so painful what they did to me and to my family. Da'esh (ISIL) has ruined our lives... What will happen to my family? I don't know if I will ever see them again," Randa said.
Since June, ISIS militants have controlled large portions of Iraq and Syria, declaring a cross-border "caliphate," or state ruled by Sharia law.
Minority groups such as the Yazidis and Christians have been systematically targeted by ISIS in a campaign that Amnesty said has amounted to ethnic cleansing, murdering civilians and sexual enslavement.
ISIS has defended its use of slavery, as captives are to them nothing more than "apostates" and "heretics."
"I would say that slavery is a great help to us, and we will continue to have slavery and beheadings," one ISIS militant recently told German reporter Juergen Todenhoefer.
"It is part of our religion ... many slaves have converted to Islam and have then been freed."
The Amnesty report concluded that while many of the females abducted by ISIS have escaped captivity, they "are not receiving the help and support they desperately need."
The report also recommended that "survivors of sexual violence should be proactively sought out and provided with adequate and timely medical care and support services". It added that it should also be "ensured that global and international agencies offering these services" are accessible to survivors in a timely manner.