Sex Slavery and Death Await Women Seized by Kadyrov’s Bandits
An article which was published by The Sunday Times, points that members of the security forces of Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Russian head of the bloody regime in the Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, are accused of turning a young mother into a sex slave.
Here is the entire article:
When Zalina Israilova was abandoned by the father of her new-born daughter, she was anxious about life as a single mother in her native Chechnya, a violent and deeply conservative Muslim republic. Nothing could have prepared her for the horrors to come.
For Israilova’s former lover, a senior member of the feared security forces of Ramzan Kadyrov, failed to intervene when some of his fellow militiamen turned the young mother into a sex slave.
She was abducted and taken to a training base where she was kept locked up and under armed guard with 10 other young women. They were kept naked and raped daily by militiamen who also beat them.
At least one of the girls was shot dead by her rapist after she sought help. Others suffered miscarriages and two became pregnant and gave birth at the base.
After surviving four months in captivity, Israilova fled with the help of a guard who took pity on her. Deeply traumatised and terrified that her former jailers would find her and kill her, she lived in St Petersburg and briefly abroad.
Then in April this year, when her brother reassured her that she would be safe and reunited with the daughter she had seen only twice in five years, Israilova, 33, returned home.
Shortly after going back, the young mother was killed and buried in an unmarked grave, sources in Chechnya told The Sunday Times last week. The crime has not been reported and officially nobody is searching for her.
“Israilova’s story is deeply shocking,” said a human rights activist who met the young mother last year. “But the horrible truth no one dares talk about is that in Chechnya such crimes against women are becoming more frequent. They’re simply hushed up. The perpetrators are above the law because often they are members of Kadyrov’s security forces.”
After two particularly brutal wars between the Russian army and freedom fighters, Chechnya is stable and has been rebuilt. But critics say that under Kadyrov, who was made president by the Kremlin in 2007, women are bearing the brunt of an increasingly strict Islamic rule.
Those deemed to be dressed improperly have been attacked in the street. Honour killings, in which men murder female relatives thought to have brought shame on the family by violating the republic’s moral codes, are on the rise. Such killings have been publicly endorsed by Kadyrov.
“Women branded by our men as being of loose morals are condemned. Stray dogs are treated more humanely,” another human rights activist said. “There is good reason to believe that there are other secret places like the base where Israilova was held as a sex slave. But how long can Kadyrov and his patrons back in Moscow keep turning a blind eye to such crimes?”
Born in Mesker-Yurt, a hamlet in central Chechnya, Israilova lost her mother when she was 10. She was raised by her grandmother but when she died, the girl moved back with her father and her two brothers. Relatives said she lived there for a few years but was unhappy and fled, a shameful act in Chechnya’s sternly patriarchal society.
Pretty, with large dark eyes and slender features, five years ago Israilova fell in love with a militiaman loyal to Kadyrov, then the republic’s [pro-Russian] prime minister. Known as the Kadyrovtsy, the militias have been accused of abducting, torturing and executing suspected Islamic militants — allegations Kadyrov vehemently denies.
Three months after she gave birth to her daughter, Elina, the militiaman jilted Israilova. Soon after, he married another woman and took Elina away from her mother.
“Zalina was in a bad way, she missed her daughter terribly,” the relative said. “She’d come and stay with me but it put me in a difficult position. The turn her life had taken made her a pariah. Being associated with her would bring shame on me, too. I wanted to help but there was little I could do.”
The relative said that on several occasions men from Kadyrov’s security forces drove Israilova away in cars with tinted windows. “Zalina said the men had threatened to kill her if she refused. They treated her like a plaything. I was close to her and felt sorry but was powerless.”
In late 2008, Israilova vanished. The following spring, she revealed in a confidential meeting with three local human rights activists, including investigator Natalya Estemirova, that she had been held as a sex slave at the Kadyrov militia base.
She said she and other girls had been subjected to unspeakable violence. “They even raped them with bottles,” one activist said last week. “They were kept naked in one big room where they slept, ate and washed. At night the men would come in and rape at will. Whenever they were driven to and from the base they were blindfolded. Girls would come and go. They were in a terrible state. Some simply vanished.”
A few months before the meeting, seven young girls thought to have been prostitutes were found dead in a field on the outskirts of Grozny, the Chechen capital. They had been shot in the heart and head. Kadyrov welcomed what he described as honour killings, but some activists suspect the victims had suffered the same fate as Israilova.
Israilova claimed to Estemirova and her colleagues that some of the men at the base were close to Kadyrov. She said one girl had managed to steal the mobile phone of a senior militiaman who had raped her. She found Kadyrov’s private mobile number on it and called him to plead for help.
According to Israilova, an angry Kadyrov called the militiaman to berate him for allowing “one of your whores” to call him. The incident led to the girl being gunned down.
“[Estemirova] believed Zalina,” said a source who was at the meeting. “She was visibly traumatised and terrified.”
The source said Estemirova had planned to write a report on the alleged abuse of women by Kadyrov’s security forces. She wanted to gather more evidence and sought a second meeting with Israilova. But in July 2009 the formidable activist and fierce Kadyrov critic was kidnapped and murdered by suspected members of Chechnya’s pro-Russian security forces.
After hearing about Israilova’s ordeal, The Sunday Times tracked her down in St Petersburg last November. She agreed to meet a Chechen intermediary.
“She was still frightened and emotionally scarred, but she gave exactly the same account she’d given to Estemirova in Grozny,” the intermediary said. “You could see she’d been through hell.”
Israilova tentatively agreed to tell her story on condition that her name was not revealed. The meeting, however, never took place as she travelled to France and Turkey for treatment for internal injuries sustained during her ordeal.
Four separate sources in Chechnya last week said she had been murdered. A relative said she thought that Israilova’s brother had been pressured into luring his sister back by the men who had held her at the base. She also blamed them for the murder.
“The urge to see her daughter again was too strong. They killed Zalina because of what she knew and what she’d seen,” a tearful relative said. “Should anyone ever ask questions, it’s easy to pin the murder on her brother and dismiss it as an honour killing. But no one is even looking for her.”
Such violence against women is on the rise. Last month a Chechen man turned himself in to police after his two daughters were gunned down at home with an AK-47 assault rifle.
In an improbable tale, the father, Ruslan Musayev, claimed he had accidentally shot one of the girls after she had killed her sister with the automatic weapon. But it has since emerged that one of the teenagers, who were 15 and 19, had become pregnant. Police suspect Musayev murdered the two young girls in an honour killing.
Last year witnesses saw a young woman being abducted by pro-Russian security forces who bundled her into a car and sped off. Her fate is unknown. Weeks later another girl was found dead in a field, apparently having been shot at close range.
Kadyrov, 34, who has two wives, has publicly endorsed polygamy and has described women as the property of their husbands. He also caused outrage by sullying Estemirova’s memory.
Human rights activists said murders of women were revealed only in the rare cases when a body was found. Honour killings are covered up by relatives.
Murders by the pro-Russian security forces go unreported either for fear of reprisals or to avoid bringing shame on the family of the victim.
“Girls like Zalina simply vanish,” said an activist. “No one will ever face justice for what happened to her. Officially peace may have returned to Chechnya but terrible things are happening there still.”
14.08.2011-The Sunday Times