Since June 2014, the Islamic State has exercised brutal control of the northwest quadrant of Iraq. Their brutality has been particularly directed at the diverse ethnic and religious communities around the northern city of Mosul. The IS method is awfully simple – kill the men and force the women and children into slavery. Those that survive are compelled to convert to Sunni Islam. It is ethno-religious cleansing.
Under this regime of intimidation, hundreds of thousands have fled to neighbouring Kurdistan. It is estimated that nearly a million internally displaces people are living in the refugee camps in and around Erbil.
I spent an hour in one such camp, in Erbil, shooting a medical station.
As I was taking the pictures of the girl with the lovely smile, her mother told me she was so pleased I was taking her daughter’s picture. She hoped I would publish the pictures in the media, so that her father would see them and know that his daughter is safe.
The girl’s father is almost certainly dead, murdered by IS.
Most of the male members of her family, likely, will have suffered a similar fate. This family will be left with absolutely nothing. It is the way of the Middle East. Without men to support them, women and children are destitute.
Men can be horrendously impassionate towards other people. The only thing that controls men is their women. Once they stop listening to them, they are capable of the wicked, evil atrocities we are witnessing in Iraq and Syria. Women and children are those who bare the consequences.
When will men in the Middle East stop listening to the words in their book and start listening to their women?
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