Steve Maman, a Montreal businessman who has been dubbed the “Jewish Schindler,” has rescued nearly 130 Christian and Yazidi women and girls from sexual slavery at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Ha’aretz reported today.
Steve Maman has rescued 128 girls and women through the organisation he founded, Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI).
CYCI uses intermediaries to negotiate with Islamic State captors and pays between $1000 – $3000 for the release of each slave. According to the organization’s website, girls and women are then returned to their families or sent to a Kurdish refugee camp in northern Syria.
Islamic State is estimated to have taken 2,700 women and girls captive, torturing them and using them as sex slaves. Amnesty International claims Yazidi and Christian girls as young as 12 are being held.
Maman attributed his motivation to his Jewish faith, citing the Talmudic phrase, “one who saves a life saves a world,” as well as the experiences of the Jewish people in the Holocaust.
In an interview earlier this month with CBC, Maman described how he initially began organizing the rescue operations.
“I decided myself, with the Yazidi and the Christians that were suffering in the caliphate that it was already too many months that had gone by without reaction.”
He adds, “I was going to use the contacts I had on the ground in Iraq and the government contacts…I was going to put those to work and try to put together a plan…to start removing those children from harm’s way and I wasn’t going to wait for the world to react.”
Maman said he interviews the girls after they’re freed to document the harrowing stories of their captivity.
“When it’s women, younger women, it’s always a question of rape…repeated rapes…it’s a question of being resold numerous times, we hear about beatings, we hear about women being under fed, we hear about women actually being kept in cages, we hear about women that were actually threatened with being burnt if they wouldn’t do certain sexual acts.”
The funds Maman raises are not only used for ransoms, but also to pay for the security and logistics of the “trusted teams” that carry out the rescues. In an interview published on Vocativ last week, Maman said the deals usually take place in Iraqi Kurdistan, and that the girls are immediately taken to refugee camps where they “receive food, shelter and medical care.”
The video embedded below describes how two young women were recently liberated by Maman and his team, and shows one’s emotional reunion with her father.
[Photo: Rebel Media / YouTube ]