Saving the Survivors: Yezidi Women, Islamic State and the German Admissions Program


  • Thomas McGee


credit constraints, out-migration, males, rural, households, poor, informal


Brutality and sexual violence perpetrated by the Islamic State (IS) group against women and girls held in captivity have left traumatic effects on survivors and their communities. In this context, the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg launched a novel ‘Special Quota’ Humanitarian Admissions Programme to receive one thousand vulnerable women and children. They are predominantly from the Yezidi religious minority in Iraq and its autonomous Kurdistan Region. The programme serves as a noble precedent for new and expanded forms of international protection to those affected by conflict-related sexual violence and associated trauma. This article draws, however, on interviews with participants of the programme in order to consider critically the gendered assumptions embedded within its design, implementation and related discourse. Research findings indicate that explicit exclusion of all adult male family members from accompanying the vulnerable “womenandchildren” [1]to Germany is against the wishes and self-perceived best interests of some women survivors. Moreover, women’s inability to maintain family unity compounds their lack of agency to determine the conditions of their own recovery and future within the programme framework.




How to Cite

Thomas McGee. (2020). Saving the Survivors: Yezidi Women, Islamic State and the German Admissions Program. Kurdish Studies, 6(1). Retrieved from