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Courtesy of 

Marcio Pimenta

Faces of Humanity Series

Marcio Pimenta

Highly Commended

A member of the Explorers Club since 2021 and National Geographic Explorer 2022, Marcio Pimenta is a photographer and explorer focuses on a testimony to human history, defined by conquest and loss. Also so sociocultural issues, identity and climate change. Based in the South of Brazil. His work has been featured in multiple print and online publications worldwide including National Geographic, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and El País.

He is an International Fellow Member of The Explorers Club, 2022 National Geographic Explorer and Pulitzer Center Grantee.

He has received numerous awards for his environmental reporting from him. In 2016 and 2017 he was in Iraq to cover the war against the Islamic State and the rebirth of the Yazidis women. This resulted in his first photo book, published in 2020, "Yazidis".

Rory Peck Trust Grantee.

Member of EveryDay Climate Change.


Kurdistan, Iraq

2016 & 2017

In the early hours of 3 August 2014, the Islamic State (IS) launched a coordinated attack across the Sinjar region of Northern Iraq, homeland to the Yazidi ethno-religious minority. The attack came from Mosul and Tal Afar in Iraq, as well as from the Al-Shaddadi and the Tel Hamis regions in Syria - therefore besieging the population from all four sides. The Kurdish Peshmerga forces mandated to protect the area abandoned bases and checkpoints, leaving the local population unprotected and largely defenseless in the face of IS’s advance.

In the hours and days that followed, approximately 12,000 Yazidis were killed or abducted by the IS.

IS’s advance over Northern Iraq caused unprecedented levels of forced displacement among the Yazidi population. According to the UN Inquiry on Syria, in the aftermath of the attack ‘no free Yazidis remained in the Sinjar region - 400,000 people of this tightly knit community had all been displaced, captured, or killed.

For six years now, these women and girls have suffered ongoing sexual violence and trafficking. They have been dehumanized and sold in slave markets (souk sabaya) organized by IS’s Committee for the Buying and Selling of Slaves, or traded among militants through online auctions – IS fighters often use encrypted Telegram messaging to circulate photos of captured Yazidis for sale. The sex trafficking system is highly regulated, with women registered as ‘slaves’ in a contract sanctioned by an IS court. Various reports have found that women were transported and held in large buildings already set up, where they were separated and categorized systematically by age, marital status, and virginity. In addition to sex trafficking, some Yazidi women and girls have been forcibly married to IS fighters, either subjected to forced pregnancy or forced contraception - as well as to abortions in some other cases. All of these tactics were accompanied by forced conversion, forced abandonment of Yazidi customs, and name changes. Yazidi women and girls in captivity are subjected to constant verbal and psychological abuse, with severe punishments for speaking their own language or practicing Yazidi traditions. Insults are particularly directed at their faith – captives are accused of being “devil worshippers”, derogatorily referred to as ‘kuffar’ and told to forget their families as well as their God.

Less than 130,000 Yazidis returned to Sinjar. To date, an estimated 300,000 Yazidis live in refugee camps.

In 2018, Nadia Murad, a Yazidi, received the Nobel Peace Prize "for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict."

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