Despite the obstacles, a yazidi woman is determined to change her life.

David green, host:

All right. Now let’s meet another determined young woman. She came from war-torn Iraq. She is a member of the Yazidi minority. Even before her community became the target of ISIS, Yazidi girls didn’t get much choice. NPR’s Jane Arraf reports what she did.

HADIYA HASKAN: I say surprise! And he said, what? (laughter.) Are you serious? I said, yes. I kissed him. Happy birthday, I said.

JANE ARRAF, wired: Hadiya Haskan shows me a photo on her phone. She is 19 years old, a high school student and newly married couple living in a tent in a displaced Yazidis camp. Her husband, who turned 23, was surprised when she ate a piece of cake. There are still balloons on the canvas wall. This is not Haskan’s dream life, because she can complete her studies. She was 15. Her parents say enough schools. It was time for her to get married. Haskan say…

Haskan: but I know nothing about love. No? Don’t want to get married? What’s the matter, you all?

Araf: she’s from a village in sinjar. None of her five sisters went to school, but Haskan insisted. It was two hours’ walk, and when she couldn’t go, she studied at home with her brother’s book. Everything changed when ISIS came to the Sinjar. The movement against the ancient yazidis is considered genocide. Haskan and her family escaped. When I first met her last summer, she still had a big dream. She wants to go to college, maybe in America. She wants to be a writer. When I returned a few months later, she was married. She said she did it because her family was desperate for money.

Haskan: our family is in terrible shape. I have to see a doctor, and I have no money. My brother wants to go to college. No money.

ARRAF: dowry is about $3,000, enough to cover medical expenses and her brother’s college education. She says it’s okay because she loves her husband.

Haskan: he said, I love you, so I want to marry you and so on. And say, ok. I love you, too. it doesn’t matter I’ll marry you.

ARRAF: he looks great. Amin Shani Bagi is smart. He ranks high in the political science class at the university. He is very handsome.

AMIN SHANI BAGI :(speaking).

ARRAF: he said he would like Haskan if he went to college. She showed me a wedding photo. They didn’t have the money to buy a wedding dress, but she said one day. Haskan said she learned English from a dictionary she borrowed as a child.

Haskan: “Anne frank” and “the world is flat”.

ARRAF: she showed me the five books she collected on a stand on TV. One is the diary of a jewish teenager during the holocaust.

Haskan: I really like Anne frank. Like me, she could be 14 or 15. In this country, in Iraq, you can see the war here. What I was thinking was that she was like me.

ARRAF: Haskan survived ISIS. Her dream was beaten, but the girl’s determination to study the dictionary persisted. NPR’s Jane araf is in Iraq’s Kurdish region near dohuk.


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