The militant group known as the Islamic State has a limited view of what women can do: At best, they can support their husbands and produce new generations of jihadists. If they are not wife material, they are most useful as sex slaves.
But thousands of women fighting the Islamic State across Syria and Iraq are proving that the group's misogynistic assumptions aren't just disrespectful -- they're baseless. In a new report, exclusive to The Huffington Post, Swedish broadcast journalist Khazar Fatemi talks to female fighters in Iraq who are battling the Islamic State under the auspices of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers' Party. At the time of the interview, the women Fatemi spoke with were fighting to protect Kurdish positions and Yazidi refugees.
Watch Fatemi's interviews in the video above.
Women have played a role for decades in the Kurdish fight for autonomy in Turkey and Syria. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. because of the violent tactics it has used in its decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state. Thanks to the PKK's leftist ideology, its female fighters have high levels of freedom and autonomy compared to what women experience across the rest of the Middle East, including in nations the U.S. considers strategic partners, like Saudi Arabia. One-third of the fighters who have been defending the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on behalf of the PYD, a Syrian Kurdish group linked with the PKK, are women. On social media and elsewhere, stories have circulated about Kobani that focus on the role of female Kurds who have gone to extreme lengths, like the fighter who has reportedly killed 100 Islamic State militants and her comrade who blew herself up to set the Islamic State back.
In her report, Fatemi, a Kurd herself, hears from these women about their motivations, their view of the fight against the Islamic State and their hopes for the presently stateless Kurdish people.