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The Morning Brew: These Islamic State sex slaves escaped. But their horror hasn't ended.

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These Islamic State sex slaves escaped. But their horror has not ended.

A mother, her husband and four children fled political prosecution in their home country of Eritrea.

Her husband abandoned her. Her three children were lost. She and her daughter were captured and sold as sex slaves by Islamic State fighters in Libya. 

Read about a mother and daughter's horrifying ordeal in a Reuters special investigation: 

One mild morning in October, when the roar of fighter jets over Sirte had died down and the crackle of gunfire had paused, Minya Mesmer decided to break free.

After 14 months as a slave in Libya, the 33-year-old Eritrean had to get away. She could no longer let her Islamic State captors rape, sell and exchange her or her 14-year-old daughter.

Her previous attempt to escape had left her with two broken legs. But she had healed enough to try again, she thought. She could lean on her daughter and limp past the cargo containers that marked the limits of Islamic State’s shrinking caliphate in the besieged city.

That morning, Mesmer (sounds like mess-mur) shared her plan with her daughter and another 16-year-old Eritrean girl. There were 22 other women holed up in the same building, all of them migrants enslaved by Islamic State. But Mesmer kept the others in the dark, worried that a large group would draw too much attention.

At around 9 a.m., Mesmer and the two girls walked out of the building, their slight frames draped in black abayas and their faces hidden behind niqabs.


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Juliana Keeping

Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award... Read more ›