Isis has boasted that it had enslaved women from an Iraqi minority group to use as concubines, as a human rights organisation reported teenagers being bought and sold by fighters for $1,000 (£622).
An English-language propaganda magazine for Isis said Yazidi women and children were considered spoils of war after they were captured as the militants seized their towns and villages. It was the first confirmation from the group of widespread allegations of detention and sexual abuse against Yazidi women.
Hundreds of thousands of members of the ancient sect were displaced as Isis fighters swept through the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in August, prompting US President Barack Obama to warn of an unfolding genocide. Those who escaped said men had been massacred while hundreds of women and children had been detained.
Isis systematically separated young women and teenage girls from their families, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.
“[Isis’s] litany of horrific crimes against the Yazidis in Iraq only keeps growing,” said Fred Abrahams, a special adviser at HRW. The group documented 366 Yazidi captives but also reported that some detainees reached by phone said the number was more than 1,000. The Iraqi government said 1,500 women were detained during the advances in the Sinjar area, which is also home to Christian and Shiite minorities.
One 15-year-old girl, interviewed after she had escaped, told the group that a Palestinian Isis militant had bought her for $1,000.
The women and children were divided among fighters according to Islamic law, the Isis magazine, Dabiq, said.
“The enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the [Isis] soldiers,” it continued. The article argued that although Christians and Jews can be offered the chance to pay a tax or convert, Yazidis, as polytheists, can be enslaved if captured during war.
It details the argument for enslavement under its extremist interpretation of Islam, boasting that it is the largest mass-enslavement since the early days of the religion.
“One should remember that enslaving the families of the [nonbelievers] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of Islamic law,” the magazine said. “Their creed is so deviant from the truth that even cross-worshipping Christians for ages considered them devil worshippers and Satanists.”
The rejection of slavery had led to an increase in adultery and fornication, it said, because men who couldn’t afford marriage found themselves surrounded by temptation, including by maids. “If she were his concubine, this relationship would be legal,” it said.
None of the Yazidi women interviewed by HRW said they had been raped, but sexual assault is deeply stigmatised in the conservative sect.
One interviewed by the group said she’d seen “brides” taken from both a school and prison she was held in. “Some were as young as 12 or 13, and up to age 20,” she said. “Some of the young women were married but without children, so [the Isis soldiers] didn’t believe they were married.”
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