A brave Iraqi woman is refusing to let the violent circumstances of her son’s conception determine the value of his life.
CNN reports the powerful story of Umm Al’aa, a 40-year-old woman from Iraq who was kidnapped by ISIS, abused, raped and impregnated before she was able to return to her family.
Umm Al’aa, not her real name, was taken captive by ISIS after they took control of her hometown in 2014, according to CNN. Her family refused to pledge allegiance to the violent terrorist group, so they were often targeted for abuse, she explained.
Once, ISIS fighters came and attacked Umm Al’aa’s daughter, and she feared that they would rape her child.
“They came and beat [her],” she remembered. “They tore off her headscarf, they ripped her clothes. They said: ‘Let’s rape her.’ But one of them, the top guy, the big one, he did not allow them to. He said: ‘We want the mother.’”
They left, but a few days later when Umm Al’aa was at the market, the ISIS fighters forced her to get into their car, according to the report. They imprisoned her and forced her into slavery for a year and a half, she said. Not long before she was released, one of the ISIS fighters beat and raped her, she told CNN.
“I tried to fight, I cried a lot,” she said. “There was a lot of pain, I was beaten a lot, but I couldn’t do anything.”
Eventually they released her to her family. She said she was pregnant with her son when she returned.
Though her son, Mohammed, was conceived in rape, Umm Al’aa said she will not let him be defined by the horrible abuse that created his life. She said her son is just as much a part of the family as her other children.
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“He’s my son, he’s not the son of ISIS,” she said.
Her story is a powerful reminder that babies, even when they are conceived in violent, terrible situations, are still valuable human beings who deserve life. Umm Al’aa could have abandoned her son or possibly even found a way to abort him, worried that he would remind her of her abusers.
But she did not. Instead, she had the strength and wisdom to embrace her son for the valuable individual who he is.