Fresh off reports that ISIS representatives are ghoulishly shopping the decapitated body of American journalist James Foley around to prospective buyers, the Islamic State has embarked on a new campaign of crimes against basic decency.
According to an extremely disturbing report published in CNN, Islamic State representatives are distributing pamphlets in mosques in the ISIS-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul in which the guidelines for the appropriate treatment of women and children slaves are outlined. Yes, slaves.
“People in Mosul — the Iraqi city now under control of the group calling itself the Islamic State — got these and other messages loud and clear after sunset prayers Friday, when armed men handed out a color-printed pamphlet “Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves,” three residents told CNN,” the report read.
The behaviors sanctioned in these pamphlets may be difficult to read:
In the Middle East Media Research Institute’s English translation of that Q&A, for instance, it is explained that capturing women is permissible if she is “unbelieving” — i.e. not Muslim (at least up to ISIS’ standards).
Much of the pamphlet talks about ISIS’ policy on having sexual intercourse with a female slave, something that the group cites to Quran to justify.
“If she is a virgin, (her slave owner) can have intercourse with her immediately,” ISIS explains, according to the MEMRI translation. “However, if she isn’t, her uterus must be purified.”
There are other rules as well, like that two men who co-own a captive can’t both have sex with her and that a man can’t have intercourse with his wife’s slave.
As to girls: “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse,” the document reads, according to MEMRI. “However if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”
Sources in Mosul that CNN spoke with expressed shock and even revulsion over the sanctioning of these crimes against human dignity, but others observed that they don’t believe there is much they could do to stop this inhuman practice.
According to other reporting, ISIS has a reserve of captives from which to draw servants or objects of sexual abuse.
“As ISIS moved through the remote communities of northern Iraq in August, the group reportedly enslaved thousands of Yazidi women, whilst men were lined up by the side of the road and shot dead one by one into mass graves,” Newsweek reported on Tuesday.
According to human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and the accounts of women who have managed to escape, these women were then taken to detention camps in the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar and sold off as servants or concubines.
More than 2,500 Yazidi women have been captured by the hardline terrorist group, according to work carried out by a team of researchers from Bristol University’s Gender and Violence Research Centre. The team is led by Nazand Begikhani, an adviser to the Kurdistan regional government on gender issues,
“These women have been treated like cattle,” she told CNN. “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.”
It seems as though there is a new ISIS horror emerging in the press nearly every day, and it is virtually unthinkable that any of these practices may one day be considered conventional. ISIS’s unceasing efforts to push the envelope of despicable behavior does, however, foster the concern that the shock value of these and other abuses may someday subside.
Is it possible that Westerners may eventually simply sigh and shrug at reports of ISIS’s latest affront to human worth? Hopefully, this group will be wiped from the face of the earth long before the West becomes inured to the parade of horrors in which these militants regularly engage.
That may be a long way off, however, give the incompetent and risk-averse fashion in which the campaign against the Islamic State is presently being waged.