Huzna Said Yusef’s voice pierces the laughter and laboured breathing in the room as she yells instructions and encouragement to the handful of young girls jogging in a circle around her. Her voice, though loud, is not aggressive. It does, however, communicate an urgency well suited to the task at hand. She is teaching Yezidi women and girls in Duhok, Iraq – some of whom are former ISIS sex slaves – how to fight, quite literally, for their lives.
As she joins the girls for a final sprint, her cheeks become flushed and her smile widens. Yusef has always liked sports but boxing is something special. “It gives you power and it gives you courage to believe in yourself,” she says.
“It makes women stronger, it empowers them to speak out and not feel ashamed of anything. It has impacted me a lot and I feel that I’m much stronger than before and I believe in myself much more,” she continues.
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