Never mind the crucifixion, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, gang-rape and beheading of just a few thousand Christian, Sunni and Yezidi women in Iraq and Syria. An American feminist campaigner has just reminded us the real problem lies at home: with the tens, if not dozens, of vulnerable girls on US college campuses whose orchestrated rape every year by gangs of ISIS-like football jocks and Phi Beta Kappa preppies has gone almost completely ignored by the authorities.
The article in Ms Magazine by Amy Lauricella – staff attorney at Global Rights for Women – is sensitively titled Institutionalized Rape: It’s Not Just an ISIS Problem.
It offers an invaluable corrective to the naive perspective that life for women under the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is almost uniquely barbaric and quite without parallel anywhere in the Western World.
Sure women don’t have it exactly easy under IS, Lauricella concedes, with reference to reports like the one from Human Rights Watch. This says that at least 3,000 Yezidi women are known to be in ISIS captivity – many of them, including girls as young as eight, brutally gang-raped on an almost daily basis by jihadists who consider them as sub-human kuffar, fit only to be used as sex slaves.
Here is one girl’s account of her experiences:
From 9:30 in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them. I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted. They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from 8 to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.
However, as Lauricella goes on to note, we should not allow ourselves the luxury of imagining that young American male college students on the leafy campuses of Yale and UVA are in any way less uncivilized than their bearded, Kalashnikov-touting counterparts in the deserts of Syria and Iraq.
As she puts it:
Merely distancing ourselves from “them” and their immoral behavior doesn’t help break down the barriers women still face in our own society.
Indeed. And to prove just how bad the situation is in the US, she sets out the full horrific details:
The U.S. Department of Education is investigating more than 100 universities for their inadequate responses to sexual assault complaints. A Yale fraternity remains suspended after pledges marched on campus in 2010 chanting “No means yes, yes means anal,” leading to a federal investigation of the college’s “failure to eliminate a hostile sexual environment.”
Unfortunately when Human Rights Watch was interviewing traumatized Yezidi escapees from ISIS capture, one of the questions it neglected to ask them was: “Which would you find more challenging to your safe space: a) being gang-raped by hordes of unwashed, bearded men smelling of rancid goat, cordite and freshly decapitated head? or b) being chanted at boorishly by a group of frustrated, freshman virgins in Brooks Brothers’ shirts with button-down collars?”
We can only assume – as Lauricella has clearly done – that the Yezidi women’s answer would be: “I would find both a) and b) equally reprehensible for rape is rape in all its manifestations be they literal or verbal. There really is totally no difference whatsoever between the experience of Yezidi girls in Raqqa who have slashed their wrists or electrocuted themselves rather than undergo another days brutalizing by their ISIS slavemasters and, that of, say, Emma Sulkowitz, the “mattress girl”, who wasn’t quite so literally raped by a fellow student at Columbia University, but nevertheless felt compelled to commit reputational suicide by appearing in a sordid porno video in which she forced herself to perform fellatio on an overweight man 11 times in succession.”
Something like that, anyway.
ISIS’ treatment of Yazidi women as sexual slaves may seem far removed from fraternity or athletic team members’ treatment of women as sexual objects for conquest, however the results are distressingly similar. As tempting as it is to deny the parallels, we must acknowledge that institutionalized rape exists throughout the world and in the face of legal prohibitions. Recognition will help identify and eliminate the behaviors within our own culture.