In the Syrian town of Serekaniye, the people live under constant threat from the unimaginable atrocities of ISIS. The revealing documentary Her War: Women vs. ISIS places us directly in the belly of this region, and explores the surprising and significant number of women who are leading the battle against the infamous terrorist organization.
The warriors depicted in the film have joined the exclusively female wing of the only armed anti-ISIS force in the area - the Kurdish People's Protection Unit, otherwise known as YPJ. They are drawn by a need to protect their families, their homeland, and their way of life. An additional incentive comes in the form of a mandate set forth by the enemy which states that any man killed by a woman will go to Hell.
The recent employment of women in military forces is in answer to the expanding conquests and body counts inflicted by ISIS. It also defies long-held traditional beliefs on the woman's societal placement in that region. As a result, as one male militant observes in the film they are crafting a "revolution within a revolution."
One member of this revolution is Gulan, an 18-year old Kurdish woman who temporarily places her life goals of becoming a teacher aside by joining the army. She feels compelled to fight because her future, and the sanctity of her family's existence, rests upon the defeat of ISIS.
"ISIS attacked us," Gulan's father announces. "They take our kids and cut off their heads. They take our daughters and do terrible things to them. My daughter wanted to join the self-defense forces."
Her War: Women vs. ISIS allows us intimate access to the fears and hopes of many of the women who stand at the front line of the fight. Their stories are inspiring, and their struggles are universally human. First and foremost, their journeys are marked by a determination to have a stake in protecting all they hold dear. But by blazing a new path they are also working to redefine the limitations imposed upon them by the culture, and proving that bravery knows no gender.
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