NEW DELHI: About 350 people belonging to Iraq’s minority Yazidi community have been released by Islamic State militants and delivered safely in the country’s Kurdish north. This is an unprecedented step as this release, the largest of its kind, did not follow any coordination or efforts to secure the release of the captives. However, all those released were elderly, disabled, or unwell and included several infants with serious illnesses.

According to the Yazidi Fraternal Organisation more than 12,000 Yazidis -- 5000 women and 7000 men -- remain missing, and are presumably in the hands of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

This is evinced by the story of two Yazidi girls who escaped the Islamic State. They described being tortured and forced to watch videos of men from their community being beheaded. They were so traumatised that they considered committing suicide on several occasions.

Sara, name changed, 15, said that her terrifying ordeal began in the Sinjar village of Tal Azir on August 3. Sara, her mother, brother and his pregnant wife fled towards the mountains as Islamic State fighters advanced. The militants however, caught up with them soon after at a remote farmhouse.

The women were separated from the men -- who were mowed down by the militants. Sara was taken to Mosul, where she was placed with hundreds of other girls as they were prepped to be sold off. 'We would try to make ourselves look ugly. Some women would cry or scream or fight, but it made no difference. They were always taken anyway. One girl hung herself. Another tried, but the IS guards stopped her and beat her very badly. No one else tried after that,” Sara told The Global Post.

The militants forced the girls/women to watch videos of beheadings of Yazidi men. “In some [videos] they put the heads into cooking pots. Sometimes they would stand on them. There were so many heads. And they would ask us, 'Do you know this one?' and laugh,” Sara recalled.

The Global Post told the story of another Yazidi girl, Freya Azam Ali, 15, who had been captured by Islamic State militants four months ago. Freya escaped the militants along with her 10 year old companion, Bousha.

As the two girls fled, the militants chased them all night.The girls hid, but each time Bousha’s uncontrolled crying betrayed their position. Finally, the girls made a last-ditch sprint for the line controlled by Yazidi fighters.

“They started shooting at us with guns and rockets. The sound was deafening,” Freya told The Global Post. “There were dogs chasing us. IS was shooting at us. I thought we would die for sure. Bousha didn’t stop crying the whole time.”

Luckily for Freya and Bousha, like Sara before them, they managed to escape IS territory.

The number of Yazidids who manage to escape is staggeringly low. As of last week, the Committee to Assist Escaped Yazidis has registered 150 women, 57 children and 229 men who have escaped IS captivity.

“We know the locations of where many of these women are being held in collective prisons,” YFO director Hussan Salim said (as quoted in The Global Post). “The longer they wait the harder it will be. [The captives] have already been widely distributed in both Iraq and across the Syrian border.”

The plight of Yazidi women still being held captive is evinced by the IS’ justification for the capture and use of Yazidi women as ‘sex slaves.’

In the fourth issue of the Islamic State’s English language digital magazine called “Dabiq” the group justifies its kidnapping of women as sex slaves, citing Islamic theology that is widely rejected by the Muslim world as a perversion of the teachings of Islam.

The article titled “Revival Of Slavery Before The Hour” is reproduced in full below:

More recently, the Islamic State seems to have released a pamphlet that contains within it guidelines on how to capture and treat female slaves. The pamphlet is presented in a “Question and Answer” format. It first appeared on Twitter where it was circulated by pro-Islamic State accounts.

Although the pamphlet cannot be independently verified, it seems to have been published by the group’s in-house publishing arm, the “Research and Fatwa Department”.

This pamphlet was published in Arabic, and has been translated by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute. The translation is reproduced below:

"Question 1: What is al-sabi?

"Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.

"Question 2: What makes al-sabi permissible?

"What makes al-sabi permissible [i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive] is [her] unbelief. Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us]."

"Question 3: Can all unbelieving women be taken captive?

"There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli], such as the kitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians] and polytheists. However, [the scholars] are disputed over [the issue of] capturing apostate women. The consensus leans towards forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it permissible. We [ISIS] lean towards accepting the consensus…"

"Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?

"It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: '[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5-6]'..."

"Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?

"If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, is she isn't, her uterus must be purified [first]…"

"Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?

"It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of [as long as that doesn't cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage."

"Question 7: Is it permissible to separate a mother from her children through [the act of] buying and selling?

"It is not permissible to separate a mother from her prepubescent children through buying, selling or giving away [a captive or slave]. [But] it is permissible to separate them if the children are grown and mature."

"Question 8: If two or more [men] buy a female captive together, does she then become [sexually] permissible to each of them?

"It is forbidden to have intercourse with a female captive if [the master] does not own her exclusively. One who owns [a captive] in partnership [with others] may not have sexual intercourse with her until the other [owners] sell or give him [their share]."

"Question 9: If the female captive was impregnated by her owner, can he then sell her?

"He can't sell her if she becomes the mother of a child..."

"Question 10: If a man dies, what is the law regarding the female captive he owned?

"Female captives are distributed as part of his estate, just as all [other parts] of his estate [are distributed]. However, they may only provide services, not intercourse, if a father or [one of the] sons has already had intercourse with them, or if several [people] inherit them in partnership."

"Question 11: May a man have intercourse with the female slave of his wife?

"A man may not have intercourse with the female slave of his wife, because [the slave] is owned by someone else."

"Question 12: May a man kiss the female slave of another, with the owner's permission?

"A man may not kiss the female slave of another, for kissing [involves] pleasure, and pleasure is prohibited unless [the man] owns [the slave] exclusively."

"Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?

"It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn't reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse."

"Question 14: What private parts of the female slave's body must be concealed during prayer?

"Her private body parts [that must be concealed] during prayer are the same as those [that must be concealed] outside [prayer], and they [include] everything besides the head, neck, hands and feet."

"Question 15: May a female slave meet foreign men without wearing a hijab?

"A female slave is allowed to expose her head, neck, hands, and feet in front of foreign men if fitna [enticement] can be avoided. However, if fitna is present, or of there is fear that it will occur, then it [i.e. exposing these body parts becomes] forbidden."

"Question 16: Can two sisters be taken together while taking slaves?

"It is permissible to have two sisters, a female slave and her aunt [her father's sister], or a female slave and her aunt [from her mother's side]. But they cannot be together during intercourse, [and] whoever has intercourse with one of them cannot have intercourse with the other, due to the general [consensus] over the prohibition of this."

"Question 17: What is al-'azl?

"Al-'azl is refraining from ejaculating on a woman's pudendum [i.e. coitus interruptus]."

"Question 18: May a man use the al-'azl [technique] with his female slave?

"A man is allowed [to use] al-'azl during intercourse with his female slave with or without her consent."

"Question 19: Is it permissible to beat a female slave?

"It is permissible to beat the female slave as a [form of] darb ta'deeb [disciplinary beating], [but] it is forbidden to [use] darb al-takseer [literally, breaking beating], [darb] al-tashaffi [beating for the purpose of achieving gratification], or [darb] al-ta'dheeb [torture beating]. Further, it is forbidden to hit the face."

Question 20: What is the ruling regarding a female slave who runs away from her master?

"A male or female slave's running away [from their master] is among the gravest of sins…"

"Question 21: What is the earthly punishment of a female slave who runs away from her master?

"She [i.e. the female slave who runs away from her master] has no punishment according to the shari'a of Allah; however, she is [to be] reprimanded [in such a way that] deters others like her from escaping."

"Question 22: Is it permissible to marry a Muslim [slave] or a kitabiyya [i.e. Jewish or Christian] female slave?

"It is impermissible for a free [man] to marry Muslim or kitabiyat female slaves, except for those [men] who feared to [commit] a sin, that is, the sin of fornication…"

"Question 24: If a man marries a female slave who is owned by someone else, who is allowed to have intercourse with her?

"A master is prohibited from having intercourse with his female slave who is married to someone else; instead, the master receives her service, [while] the husband [gets to] enjoy her [sexually]."

"Question 25: Are the huddoud [Koranic punishments] applied to female slaves?

"If a female slave committed what necessitated the enforcement of a hadd [on her], a hadd [is then] enforced on her – however, the hadd is reduced by half within the hudud that accepts reduction by half…"

"Question 27: What is the reward for freeing a slave girl?

"Allah the exalted said [in the Koran]: 'And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass [hell]? It is the freeing of a slave.' And [the prophet Muhammad] said: 'Whoever frees a believer Allah frees every organ of his body from hellfire.'"