Sexual violence in the Iraqi insurgency
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has employed sexual violence against women and men in a manner that has been described as slavery and "terrorism". Sexual violence, as defined by The World Health Organization includes “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.” ISIL has used sexual violence to undermine a sense of security within communities, and to raise funds through the sale of captives into sexual slavery.
In October 2014, in its digital magazine Dabiq, ISIL explicitly claimed religious justification for enslaving Yazidi women. Specifically, ISIL argued that the Yazidi were idol worshipers and appealed to the shariah practice of spoils of war. ISIL asserts that certain Hadith and Qur’anic verses support their right to enslave and rape captive non-Muslim women. ISIL appealed to apocalyptic beliefs and "claimed justification by a Hadith that they interpret as portraying the revival of slavery as a precursor to the end of the world." According to Dabiq, "enslaving the families of the kuffar and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharia’s that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Qur'an and the narration of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam." In late 2014 ISIL released a pamphlet that focused on the treatment of female slaves. It says fighters are allowed to have sex with adolescent girls and to beat slaves as discipline. The pamphlet's guidelines also allow fighters to trade slaves, including for sex, as long as they have not been impregnated by their owner. Charlie Winter, a researcher at the counter-extremist think tank Quilliam, described the pamphlet as "abhorent". The New York Times said in August 2015 that "[t]he systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State in the year since the group announced it was reviving slavery as an institution."
ISIL has received widespread criticism from Muslim scholars and others in the Muslim world for using part of the Qur'an to derive a ruling in isolation, rather than considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith. In late September 2014 a group of 126 Islamic scholars had signed an open letter to the Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rejecting his group's interpretations of the Qur'an and hadith to justify its actions. The letter accused the group of instigating fitna—sedition—by instituting slavery under its rule in contravention of the anti-slavery consensus of the Islamic scholarly community. According to Martin Williams in The Citizen, some hard-line Salafists apparently regard extramarital sex with multiple partners as a legitimate form of holy war and it is "difficult to reconcile this with a religion where some adherents insist that women must be covered from head to toe, with only a narrow slit for the eyes". According to Mona Siddiqui, ISIL's "narrative may well be wrapped up in the familiar language of jihad and 'fighting in the cause of Allah', but it amounts to little more than destruction of anything and anyone who doesn't agree with them"; she describes ISIL as reflecting a "lethal mix of violence and sexual power" and a "deeply flawed view of manhood". In response to the ISIL pamphlet on the treatment of slaves Abbas Barzegar, a religion professor at Georgia State University, said Muslims around the world find ISIL's "alien interpretation of Islam grotesque and abhorrent". Muslim leaders and scholars from around the world have rejected the validity of these claims, claiming that the reintroduction of slavery is unislamic, that they are required to protect ‘People of the Scripture’ including Christians, Jews, Muslims and Yazidis, and that ISIL's fatwas are invalid due to their lack of religious authority and the fatwas' inconsistency with Islam.
An article in Foreign Policy suggests the existence of “a bias against covering rape and sexual assault, since they tend to be viewed by some as 'women’s issues' versus 'mainstream' insurgent tactics." Others warn that sexual violence should not be categorized as an act of terror, because such a categorization could provoke dangerous consequences. Catherine M. Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues affirms “the de-humanization of women and girls is central to ISIL’s campaign of terror, through which it destroys communities, rewards its fighters and feeds its evil. A coalition that fights ISIL must also fight this particularly egregious form of brutality.”
On September 6, 2014, Defend International launched a worldwide campaign entitled "Save The Yazidis: The World Has To Act Now" to raise awareness about the tragedy of the Yazidis in Sinjar; coordinate activities related to intensifying efforts aimed at rescuing Yazidi and Christian women and girls captured by ISIL, and building a bridge between potential partners and communities whose work is relevant to the campaign, including individuals, groups, communities, and organizations active in the areas of women’s and girls’ rights, inter alia, as well as actors involved in ending modern-day slavery and violence against women and girls
On October 14, 2014, Dr. Widad Akrawi of Defend International dedicated her 2014 International Pfeffer Peace Award to the Yazidis, Christians and all residents of Kobane because, she said, facts on the ground demonstrate that these peaceful people are not safe in their enclaves and therefore in urgent need for immediate attention from the global community. She asked the international community to make sure that the victims are not forgotten; they should be rescued, protected, fully assisted and compensated fairly. On November 4, 2014, Dr. Akrawi said that “the international community should define what’s happening to the Yezidis as a crime against humanity, crime against cultural heritage of the region and ethnic cleansing,” adding that Yazidi females are being subjected to a systematic gender-based violence and that slavery and rape are being used by ISIL as weapons of war.” On 3 November 2014, the horrifying “price list” for Yazidi and Christian females issued by ISIL surfaced online, and Dr. Akrawi and her team were the first to verify the authenticity of the document. On 4 November 2014, a translated version of the document was shared by Dr. Akrawi. On 4 August 2015, the same document was confirmed as genuine by a UN official.
A United Nations report issued on October 2, 2014, based on 500 interviews with witnesses, said that ISIL took 450–500 women and girls to Iraq's Nineveh region in August where "150 unmarried girls and women, predominantly from the Yazidi and Christian communities, were reportedly transported to Syria, either to be given to ISIL fighters as a reward or to be sold as sex slaves". In mid-October, the UN confirmed that 5,000–7,000 Yazidi women and children had been abducted by ISIL and sold into slavery. In November 2014 the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that ISIS was committing crimes against humanity. In 2016 the Commission for International Justice and Accountability said they had identified 34 senior ISIL members who were instrumental in the systematic sex slave trade and planned to prosecute them after the end of hostilities.
Examples of sexual violence by ISIL
According to one report, ISIL's capture of Iraqi cities in June 2014 was accompanied by an upsurge in crimes against women, including kidnap and rape. The Guardian reported that ISIL's extremist agenda extended to women's bodies and that women living under their control were being captured and raped. Fighters are told that they are free to have sex and rape non-Muslim captive women. Hannaa Edwar, a leading women’s rights advocate in Baghdad who runs an NGO called Iraqi Al-Amal Association (IAA), said that none of her contacts in Mosul were able to confirm any cases of rape. However, another Baghdad-based women's rights activist, Basma al-Khateeb, said that a culture of violence existed in Iraq against women generally and felt sure that sexual violence against women was happening in Mosul involving not only ISIL but all armed groups.
In a press release by the United Nations Iraq on August 12, 2014, representatives report “atrocious accounts on the abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner.” Instances of sexual violence appear to be increasing, with some estimates totaling 1,500 Yazidi and Christian captives forced into sexual slavery.
Amnesty International infers that ISIL has “launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq,” where “many of those held by IS have been threatened with rape or sexual assault or pressured to convert to Islam. In some cases entire families have been abducted”. Thus, these crimes extend beyond gender-based violence as males, in addition to females, are being targeted. In this case sexual violence is employed to achieve a political goal, religious conversion to Islam as interpreted by ISIL.
Haleh Esfandiari from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has highlighted the abuse of local women by ISIL militants after they have captured an area. "They usually take the older women to a makeshift slave market and try to sell them. The younger girls ... are raped or married off to fighters", she said, adding, "It's based on temporary marriages, and once these fighters have had sex with these young girls, they just pass them on to other fighters." Speaking of Yazidi women captured by ISIS, Nazand Begikhani said "[t]hese women have been treated like cattle... They have been subjected to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery. They've been exposed in markets in Mosul and in Raqqa, Syria, carrying price tags." Dabiq describes "this large-scale enslavement" of non-Muslims as "probably the first since the abandonment of Shariah law".
The Guardian reported on September 29, 2014, that ISIL extended its recruitment efforts to Western females, asking them to join the movement in order to bear children for the new caliphate. Hundreds of females, predominantly between 16–24 years old, have been radicalized and abandoned their families, homes, and countries to join the jihad in the name of ISIL. At least one is as young as 13 years old.
Shortly after the death of US hostage Kayla Mueller was confirmed on 10 February 2015, several media outlets reported that the US intelligence community believed she may have been given as a wife to an ISIL fighter. In August 2015 it was confirmed that she had been forced into marriage to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who raped her repeatedly. The Washington Post reported that "[t]he leader of the Islamic State personally kept a 26-year-old American woman [Mueller] as a hostage and raped her repeatedly." The Mueller family was informed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had sexually abused Ms. Mueller, and that Ms. Mueller had also been tortured. Abu Sayyaf's widow, Umm Sayyaf, confirmed that it was her husband who had been Mueller's primary abuser.
- Islamic views on slavery
- Ma malakat aymanukum
- Persecution of Assyrians by ISIL
- Persecution of Yazidis by ISIL
- Sexual jihad
- Slavery in 21st century Islamism
- Wartime sexual violence
- Genocidal rape
- "ISIS sexual violence is an act of terrorism, says former CIA analyst". Cbc.ca. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- World Health Organization. "Prevention of Violence Global Campaign." (PDF). Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Esposito, John L. (September 2015). "Islam and Political Violence". Religions (6): 1067–1081. doi:10.3390/rel6031067.
- "Islamic State Seeks to Justify Enslaving Yazidi Women and Girls in Iraq". Newsweek. Reuters. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- Athena Yenko, "Judgment Day Justifies Sex Slavery Of Women – ISIS Out With Its 4th Edition Of Dabiq Magazine," International Business Times-Australia, October 13, 2014
- Allen McDuffee, "ISIS Is Now Bragging About Enslaving Women and Children," The Atlantic, Oct 13 2014
- Salma Abdelaziz, "ISIS states its justification for the enslavement of women," CNN, October 13, 2014
- Spencer, Richard (13 October 2014). "Thousands of Yazidi women sold as sex slaves 'for theological reasons', says Isil". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- "To have and to hold: Jihadists boast of selling captive women as concubines," The Economist, Oct 18th 2014
- By AFP, "ISIS jihadists boast of enslaving Yazidi women," Al Arabiya, October 13, 2014
- Kumar, Anugrah (13 October 2014). "ISIS Claims Islam Justifies Making 'Infidel' Women Sex Slaves". The Christian Post. CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- Sypher, Ford (28 August 2014). "Rape and Sexual Slavery Inside an ISIS Prison". The Daily Beast. Horror. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
- Abdelaziz, Salma (13 October 2014). "ISIS states its justification for the enslavement of women". CNN. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- Nour Malas, "Ancient Prophecies Motivate Islamic State Militants: Battlefield Strategies Driven by 1,400-year-old Apocalyptic Ideas," The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2014 (accessed Nov. 22, 2014)
- "ISIL seeks to justify enslaving Yazidi women and girls in Iraq". Today's Zaman. abril. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- Amelia Smith, "ISIS Publish Pamphlet On How to Treat Female Slaves," Newsweek, 12/9/2014
- Abul Taher (13 December 2014). "Our faith condones raping underage slaves: ISIS publishes shocking guidebook telling fighters how to buy, sell and abuse captured women". Daily Mail.
- Katharine Lackey, "Pamphlet provides Islamic State guidelines for sex slaves," USA Today, December 13, 2014
- Adam Withnall, "Isis releases 'abhorrent' sex slaves pamphlet with 27 tips for militants on taking, punishing and raping female captives," The Independent, 10 December 2014
- Greg Botelho, "ISIS: Enslaving, having sex with 'unbelieving' women, girls is OK," CNN, December 13, 2014
- Carey Lodge, "Islamic State issues abhorrent sex slavery guidelines about how to treat women,",Christianity Today, 15 December 2014
- Callimachi, Rukmini (13 August 2015). "ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- Lauren Markoe (24 September 2013). "Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter to Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology". The Huffington Post. Religious News Service. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- Smith, Samuel (25 September 2014). "International Coalition of Muslim Scholars Refute ISIS' Religious Arguments in Open Letter to al-Baghdadi". The Christian Post. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- "Open Letter to Al-Baghdadi". September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- Williams, Martin (25 September 2013). "Sexual jihad is a bit much". The Citizen. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- Siddiqui, Mona (24 August 2014). "Isis: a contrived ideology justifying barbarism and sexual control". The Observer. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- "The Islamic State of Sexual Violence". Foreign Policy. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "U.S. Department of State, ISIL's Abuse of Women and Girls Must Be Stopped". Statedpt.tumblr.com. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Dr. Widad Akrawi quotes at bestquotes4ever.com". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Dr. Widad Akrawi quote at brainywords.com". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Dr. Widad Akrawi quote at azquotes.com". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Dr. Widad Akrawi quote at shayarihall.com". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Save The Yazidis: The World Has To Act Now". Retrieved 2014-09-12.
- "Artist Jane Adams invited to join Save The Yazidis campaign". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Dr Widad Akrawi awarded International Pfeffer Peace Prize". Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Dr. Widad Akrawi Receives the Pfeffer Peace Award". Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Dr Akrawi Dedicated Peace Award to Yezidis, Christians and Kobane". Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "Dr. Widad Akrawi Barış ödülünü Kobanê ve Şengal'e adadı". Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Peace award dedicated to Kobanî and Şengal". Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Dr. Widad Akrawi Xelata Aştiyê pêşkêşî Kobanê û Şengalê hat kirin". Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Xelata Aştiyê diyarî Kobanê hat kirin". Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Save The Yazidis: The World Has To Act Now". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Dr Widad Akrawi Interviewed at RojNews: How should the international community classify the systematic massacre of the Yezidi civilians in Sinjar by IS jihadists that included taking Yezidi girls as sex slaves". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "IS "Price List" For Yazidi And Christian Females Verified By UN Official". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Isis Price List For Yazidi And Christian Females As Young As One Confirmed As Genuine By UN Official". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "ISIS Executes 19 Girls For Refusing Sex With Its Fighters". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Isis Price List for Yazidi & Christian females as young as one confirmed genuine by UN Official". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "ISIS executes 19 girls for refusing to have sex with fighters as UN envoy reveals how sex slaves are 'peddled like barrels of petrol'". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "ISIS executes 19 girls for refusing to have sex with fighters - See more at: http://www.satenaw.com/isis-executes-19-girls-for-refusing-to-have-sex-with-fighters/#sthash.Eg85oUTr.dpuf". Retrieved 13 October 2015. External link in
- "'The Girls Get Peddled Like Barrels of Petrol:' U.N. Official Confirms Nauseating 'Price List' for Islamic State Sex Slaves". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "ISIS Circulates Sex Slave Price List And Executes 19 Girls For Refusing Sex With Fighters". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "ISIS'S DESPICABLE 'PRICE LIST' FOR YAZIDI AND CHRISTIAN SLAVES". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "19 Girls Executed for Refusing to have Sex with ISIS Fighters". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Yazidi sex slave who claims she was raped by 'American teacher turned ISIS jihadi' to testify to Congress". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "UN Representative confirms ISIS have institutionalised sexual brutalisation of women". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "11-year-old ISIS sex slave used as a human shield". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Islamic State murders 19 girls for refusing sex with jihadis, peddles sex slaves like "barrels of petrol"". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Horrific treatment of 11-year-old Yazidi sex slave forced to protect her depraved ISIS captor from gunfire". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "Isis 'price list' for child slaves confirmed as genuine by UN official Zainab Bangura". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- "19 girls were executed by ISIS for refusing to have sex with the jihadists, UN recovered a price list of Yazidi girls". Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- Nebehay, Stephanie (2 October 2014). "Islamic State committing 'staggering' crimes in Iraq: U.N. report". Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- Steve Hopkins, "Full horror of the Yazidis who didn’t escape Mount Sinjar: UN confirms 5,000 men were executed and 7,000 women are now kept as sex slaves," Mail Online, 14 October 2014
- Spencer, Richard (14 October 2014). "Isil carried out massacres and mass sexual enslavement of Yazidis, UN confirms". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- Staff writer, "ISIS accused of crimes against humanity," Al Arabiya, November 14, 2014
- Nina Larson, "UN probe: ISIS committing 'crimes against humanity' in Syria," The Daily Star, November 14, 2014
- Gardner, Ffrank (2016-08-03). "Iraq's Sinjar Yazidis: Bringing IS slavers to justice". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-08-03.
- "Surging Violence Against Women in Iraq". Inter Press Service. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- Winterton, Clare (25 June 2014). "Why We Must Act When Women in Iraq Document Rape". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- إسراء محمد علي. "إعلامي كويتي: "داعش" يطالب أهالي الموصل بتقديم غير المتزوجات لـ"جهاد النكاح". المصری الیوم. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- Susskind, Yifat (3 July 2014). "Under Isis, Iraqi women again face an old nightmare: violence and repression". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- "Det jag har bevittnat i al-Raqqa kommer alltid förfölja mig". Nyheter Världen (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Hanaa Edwar". NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- Mike, Giglio (27 June 2014). "Fear Of Sexual Violence Simmers In Iraq As ISIL Advances". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "SRSG Bangura and SRSG Mladenov gravely concerned by reports of sexual violence against internally displaced persons". Uniraq.org. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Gruesome evidence of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq as Islamic State moves to wipe out minorities - Amnesty International". Amnesty.org. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Ahmed, Havidar (14 August 2014). "The Yezidi Exodus, Girls Raped by ISIS Jump to their Death on Mount Shingal". Rudaw Media Network. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Brekke, Kira (8 September 2014). "ISIS Is Attacking Women, And Nobody Is Talking About It". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- Ivan Watson, "'Treated like cattle': Yazidi women sold, raped, enslaved by ISIS," CNN,October 30, 2014
- Harriet Sherwood. "Schoolgirl jihadis: the female Islamists leaving home to join Isis fighters". the Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "ISIS Just Executed More Than 150 Women In Fallujah". Business Insider. NOW News. Dec 17, 2014.
- Chastain, Mary (17 Dec 2014). "ISIS Slaughters 150 Females in Iraq for Refusing to Marry, Have Sex with Them". Breitbart News.
- Peter Foster, "US female hostage held by Isil is dead, confirms Obama," The Daily Telegraph, 10 February 2015
- "Kayla Mueller, American ISIL hostage, is dead,", Al Jazeera America, 10 February 2015
- Rukmini Callimachi, "Death of Kayla Mueller, ISIS Hostage, Confirmed by Family and White House,", New York Times, 10 February 2015
- Doug Stanglin; Jim Michaels; Jessica Estepa; Shaun McKinnon (7 February 2015). "Officials: No proof U.S. hostage killed in airstrike". USA Today. (Arizona) Republic, Associated Press. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "U.S. believes hostage was given to ISIS fighter as bride," CBS News, 11 February 2015
- JAMES GORDON MEEK and RHONDA SCHWARTZ, "Officials: Kayla Mueller May Have Been Given to ISIS Commander," ABC News, 10 February 2015
- Meg Wagner and Corky Siemaszko, "Kayla Jean Mueller, American aid worker held hostage, may have been forced to marry ISIS leader: report," Daily News|location=New York, 10 February 2015
- "Islamic State Leader Raped American Hostage, US Finds", nytimes.com, August 14, 2015.
- "Islamic State leader reportedly raped American hostage", foxnews.com, August 14, 2015.
- "ISIS leader repeatedly raped American hostage, U.S. finds", cbsnews.com, August 14, 2015.
- BBC News: "Islamic State leader Baghdadi 'raped' Kayla Mueller", bbc.co.uk, August 14, 2015.
- Ken Dilanian. "Islamic State Leader Raped American Hostage, US Finds", abcnews.go.com, August 14, 2015.
- Goldman, Adam; Miller, Greg (August 14, 2015). "Leader of Islamic State took American hostage as sexual slave". The Washington Post.
- "'ISIS leader al-Baghdadi repeatedly raped US hostage Mueller before her death' ... We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi," Mueller's parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, told ABC News", jpost.com, August 14, 2015.
- James Gordon Meek (2015-08-14). "ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Sexually Abused American Hostage Kayla Mueller, Officials Say". Washington DC: ABC News. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
The information about al-Baghdadi's extraordinary direct role in the captivity and physical abuse of Kayla Mueller was drawn from, among many sources, the U.S. debriefings of at least least two Yezedi teenage girls, ages 16 and 18, held as sex slaves in the Sayyaf compound as well as from the interrogation of Abu Sayyaf's wife Umm Sayyaf, who was captured in the U.S. raid, the officials told ABC News.