Reading is supposed to be an escape. Why would we want to
read the same kind of stories of terrible violence that are
in the world today? But what of the women who can't get away
from the horrors?
THE GIRL WHO BEAT ISIS lets us inside the world of some women
who live in hopelessness and are desperate for escape.
Farida Khalaf was taught to fire a rifle by her father at
age fifteen. They lived in northern Iraq, raising sheep
and vegetables. But her family were Yazidis, speaking
Kurdish. While the Muslim Arab people in the nearby
villages seemed friendly and traded, they were sure to keep
apart and the minority Yazidis were not allowed to marry
Farida learned that in the past there had been bad
relations between the two populations. She wore relatively
modern clothes and was not obliged to cover her head.
Compulsory education was introduced in 1970 and aged
eighteen, Farida was the best educated in her family,
loving math and physics.
Life changed with the rise in neighboring Syria of a
terrorist group, DAIS or Daesh, better known in Europe and
America as IS. Repelling government forces, this group
started persecuting other religions and brutally requiring
everyone to obey them. Farida's father was a soldier, and
had to guard the border. He was worried that the refugees
would include agents of IS. These people, he told her, were
funded by the oil states, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and were
supplied with arms by Turkey.
But the spreading strife was just on television... until
Farida and her girlfriends Evin and Nura discovered that
bombs were exploding in nearby cities. How could they stay
safe from suicide bombers and an invading well-armed force?
IS, joined by released criminals, at first wanted cities,
oilfields and dams, but when they conquered those, every
village would be at risk.
The story is nail-bitingly tense and reconstructs the civil
war and the flight of thousands of Kurds to the top of a
mountain. Farida's family was not among them, and suffered
terribly. Robbery, captivity, slavery and beatings awaited
her, so this is not a tale for the tender but remember that
Farida and her friends were the tender ones facing death.
The evil men bought little girls before young women,
so Farida continually tried to escape while she could, and
I have to admire her bravery and persistence. Evin, too,
deserves high praise, faithfully staying with Farida who
had occasional epileptic fits from the stress. The girls
formed an escape committee and never stopped working to get
free or make contact with the outside world. I have to hope I
could be so brave.
In the aftermath of the foul treatment the girls endured,
Farida tells us that the ingrained attitudes of her own
people were awful, making her feel ashamed when she had done
This lesson is one we could all take to heart. The co-writer
Andrea C. Hoffman leaves us in no doubt that the
inspirational source for THE GIRL WHO BEAT ISIS will go a
long way. This book is available through common book sales
sites and will give readers a good understanding of the
horrible life endured by ordinary people living under ISIS
A young Yazidi woman was living a normal, sheltered life in
northern Iraq during the summer of 2014 when her entire world
was upended: her village was attacked by ISIS. All of the men
in her town were killed and the women were taken into
This is Farida Khalaf s story.
In unprecedented detail, Farida describes her world as it was
at nineteen, she was living at home with her brothers and
parents, finishing her schooling and looking forward to
becoming a math teacher and the hell it became. Held in a
slave market in Syria and sold into the homes of several ISIS
soldiers, she stubbornly attempts resistance at every turn.
Farida is ultimately brought to an ISIS training camp in the
middle of the desert, where she plots an against-all-odds
escape for herself and five other girls.
A riveting firsthand account of life in captivity and a
courageous flight to freedom, this astonishing memoir is also
Farida s way of bearing witness, and of ensuring that ISIS
does not succeed in crushing her spirit. Her bravery,
resilience, and hope in the face of unimaginable violence
will fascinate and inspire.