Silence as agency: Yazidi women’s security strategies during ISIS rule

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ISIS is well known for its brutal mistreatment of those deemed ‘enemies’ and ‘infidels’. In the Kurdistan region of Iraq, having been abducted by ISIS in 2014, many Yazidi women were subjected to different types of violence: sexual, physical and mental. This study investigates how silence was employed by these women as a security strategy to survive their brutal mistreatment under ISIS. The use of silence as a security strategy challenges the assumption that silence is a sign of disempowerment. Drawing on feminist security studies, this study proposes an alternative analysis of security, agency and gendered violence; it demonstrates the need to recognise the complex strategies these Yazidi women developed to resist ISIS rule. It suggests that this approach may be used to critique established narratives about women in the Global South and reveal the under-reported security strategies women employ in conflict settings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Politics and Gender
Early online date10 Feb 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 10 Feb 2023


  • Yazidi women
  • ISIS
  • silence
  • voice
  • feminist security studies
  • gender-based violence

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