Zainab Bangura headed a United Nations unit of sex crime investigators that recently completed a five year study of “the world’s war zones for evidence of forced marriages, slavery and mass rape.” Guess which area not only topped, but set new “standards” for gross crimes against women? The region infiltrated by ISIS. Bangura remarks:
During my recent five-country Middle East visit, I met officials, frontline workers and survivors. My focus was IS’s war on women, including from Yazidi, Christian and Turkmen Shia minorities.
After attacking a village, IS splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.
There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.
We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his ‘property’.
For ISIS, “sexual violence” and the “brutalization of women and girls” isn’t just an ideological focus. It is also a “‘tactic of terrorism’ to advance key strategic priorities, such as recruitment, fundraising, to enforce discipline and order – through the punishment of dissenters or family members – and to advance their radical ideology.”
And what will happen with all this research? It is set to be compiled into a UN report.