A Brief History of Lutfiye Bilemjian – Taken To A Harem

17-year-old Lutfiye Bielemjan from Ayntap along with her parents and two brothers was deported to Deir ez-Zor. Lutfiye’s mother died trying to protect her children. Her father and younger brother were also killed, while the older brother went missing.

As for Lutfiye, she became the property of a Chechen who then sold her to a Kurd. This Kurd then gave the girl to Mahmoud Pasha, a wealthy Turk in whose house the girl would live for 11 years.

During the Armenian Genocide, Armenian women were subjected to inhuman sexual violence and sold into slavery. During stops along the deportation route, Turks, Arabs, and Kurds often abducted beautiful women and girls at night.

Forced Islamized women were given new Turkish names. Sometimes, according to local tribal customs, the faces and bodies of these women were covered with tattoos.

In the Middle East and Islamic countries, tattoos were widely used as talismans and amulets. They often had the form of dots and crosses, showed the national and religious affiliation of women, and described the events that had occurred in their lives.

Karen Jeppe, Danish missionary and director of the Commission for the Protection of Women and Children in the Near East under the League of Nations, working with the leaders of the Arab tribes, by 1928 had managed to liberate about 2,000 Armenian women and children from Islamic captivity.

Thanks to her efforts, on May 18, 1926, Lutfiye was liberated as well.

“November 27, 1916

“Slave markets…

Slave markets have been established for women along all the roads that the exiles pass, where the price for a 12-14-year-old Armenian teenage girl ranges from about 8 to 23 francs. The author of these lines saw one of these markets in Damascus.

…The so-called “intellectuals” of the Islamic world – the Khoji, Ulema, Qadi, and Mufti – quickly managed to seize this opportunity.”

Colonel de la Panus, military attaché of France in London

General Joffre, Commander of the French Army

Photo Source: Nations League Archive, Geneva

Read Also: “The Stigma of My Grandmother” – Film by Swedish Publicist Susan Hartalian

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