The Daughters of Kobani

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
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In The Daughters of Kobani, how does ISIS’s brutality toward women motivate the members of the YPJ to fight?

ISIS’s brutality toward women motivates the members of the YPJ to fight because when ISIS surrounds the soldiers in Kobani, Nowruz reminds them of the rape and torture that ISIS has inflicted, which gives the YPJ members the courage to keep battling.

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In chapter 5, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon further details the battle between ISIS and the YPJ in Kobani. ISIS is losing ground and fighters, yet their war tactics remain “relentless.” To cut through the lines that YPJ built, ISIS sets off car bombs and truck bombs throughout the day. The ruthless strategy of ISIS dispirits YPJ fighters and leaders. “For Nowruz, each day couldn’t end soon enough,” says Lemmon.

Nowruz stands for hours and struggles to send her fighters proper food. The food insecurity is such that she has to warn the women not to eat the chickens wandering around the city. Soon, ISIS launches an all-out assault on Rojda’s front line. Her troops are all but surrounded.

As ISIS gains ground on the YPJ, Nowruz is concerned that troop morale is fading. To inspire them, she reminds her fighters of the brutalities that ISIS has inflicted on women. “Think about all those women in Sinjar,” she tells Rojda. She’s referring to the Yazidis that ISIS tortured, raped, and trafficked. Nowruz is not in a position to supply her fighters with reinforcements or more weapons. What she can do is help them remember the reason for their mission. Nowruz informs her troops that it’s incumbent upon them to “take revenge for the Yazidis and for all the women they have brutalized.”

Nowruz uses the atrocities committed by ISIS against women to motivate Rojda and her fighters. After receiving Nowruz’s message, Rojda promises not to surrender. She reexamines her battle plans and tries to figure out how to keep the YPJ in the fight against ISIS.

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