ISIS sex atrocities: Child rape, forced virginity surgeries exposed in UN report
“Girls are literally being stripped naked and examined in slave bazaars,” by Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) fighters, Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict told the journalist during abriefing.
Bangura visited the Middle East between April 16 and 29 to talk to surviving rape victims. During her travels she stopped in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Bangura managed to interview women who had escaped and survived horrific sexual assaults at the hands of IS fighters.
The girls and children were treated like cattle, she said. They are “categorized and shipped naked off to Dohuk or Mosul or other locations to be distributed among ISIL leadership and fighters.”
One of the victims was married off over 20 separate times and after each time was forced to get a surgery that would repair her virginity.
“Women and girls are at risk and under assault at every point of their lives,” Bangura said, adding that this kind of violent treatment of women was actually encouraged as part of jihad.
“ISIL has institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations, using it as a tactic of terrorism to advance their key strategic objectives.”
Horror and violence followed the girls “every step of the way…in the midst of active conflict, in areas under control of armed actors, at check-points and border crossings, and in detention facilities,” according to Bangura.
Militants even use trafficking, prostitution and ransom plots as a way to raise money, she added.
Sexual violence is used by IS as a tactic to punish, humiliate, and demoralize local populations, making it easier to get information from them and displace them.
As a result of these atrocities, these victims of child rape are growing into “a generation of stateless children,” who will remain vulnerable to IS recruitment tactics.
There have been reports that doctors have performed illegal abortions on pregnant girls as young as nine.
Many of the child victims are from the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq. Around 40,000 of them were reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint by IS militants last August. Other minorities at risk include Christians, Iraqi Turkmens and Shabaks.
A video surfaced on YouTube in November, showing IS militants laughing and joking while buying Yazidi slaves.
Many of the women have expressed feeling ashamed and are unable to restart their lives after surviving the brutal and humiliating attacks.