Video of street play falsely shared as ‘ISIS selling women as sex slaves’

By: Ankita Kulkarni
May 29 2023

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Video of street play falsely shared as ‘ISIS selling women as sex slaves’


The Verdict False

The video is from a street play based on the alleged treatment of Yazidi Kurds by ISIS in Iraq. It does not show a market where ISIS sells sex slaves.

Claim ID 4b2c9583

A video being circulated on social media shows a man approaching some burqa-clad women and lifting their veils to see their faces briefly. Sharing the video, one user on Twitter wrote that “These images make me sick, angry and sad. This is a market where IS (Daesh) sells sex slaves. Completely covered from head to toe with the hijab and only the owner to whom they belong is allowed to see them.” Some other posts sharing the same video claimed that the video depicts “the 21st century sex slave market organized by ISIS.” The video is also viral on Facebook and Tik Tok. Darya Safai, a member of the Belgian Parliament also shared the video on Twitter with a similar claim but later added a clarification in a tweet in the same thread.

In Fact
A reverse image search led us to a TikTok video posted by a user on May 7, 2023. The caption read: “By: Aryan Rafiq Art performs The Unheard Screams Of The Ezidkhan Angels 2023." The visuals are an exact match for the viral video. 

Taking the hint from the play name, we found a Facebook post uploaded by a user named Aryan Rafiq on March 7, 2023, which included footage of the same incident. The post’s caption stated that it showed a live performance called “The Unheard Screams Of The Ezidkhan Angels” by Aryan Rafiq. The video also included credits at the end, which mentioned the names of the models seen and the cameraperson and editor, clearly proving that this was a play. We also spotted several people recording the performance in the video, which also proves that it was a street play. 

We also came across another Facebook post by Rafiq which carried an invite for the play dated March 8, 2023. This mentioned the venue of the play as “Erbil- Parki Shar Near Erbil Citabel.” We checked this location on Google Maps and found the venue with the exact same arches in the background as in the viral video. 

Logically Facts also contacted Rafiq, the director of the play, who confirmed that the video shows a scene from a performance directed by her and performed in March 2023 in Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. She said that the play was based on ISIS' war on Kurdistan in the Sinjar region, showing the plight of Yazidi Kurds. "They kidnapped women and girls as slaves and sold them in the Mosel market and Syria. Each girl’s paper was sold several times and they were raped several times," she said, apparently referring to an incident from August 2014, when ISIS fighters captured Sinjar in north-western Iraq, allegedly executing thousands of Yazidi men, women, and children. ISIS is also believed to have abducted more than 6,000 Yazidis and subjected women and girls to atrocities such as sexual violence and enslavement, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Verdict
A video of a street play in Iraq is being peddled as a real scene of a “sex slave auction” carried out by ISIS. Therefore, we mark the claim false.

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