This article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal:
Tucked away in a recent New York Times story on military operations against ISIS by Iraqi special forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga was a brief description of what these troops discovered when they entered a village in Iraq that had been occupied by ISIS fighters. A naked woman, tied to a tree, who had been repeatedly raped by ISIS fighters. Another woman was discovered in a second village, similarly naked, tied down and repeatedly raped. The fighters, it appears, are “rewarded” by being allowed to have their way with captured women.
ISIS has received considerable world attention for its savage beheadings, executions of captured soldiers and men in conquered towns and villages, violence against Christians and Shiites, and the destruction of non-Sunni shrines and places of worship. But its barbarity against women has been treated as a side issue. Arab and Muslim governments, vocal on the threat ISIS poses to regional stability, have been virtually silent on ISIS’s systemic degradation, abuse, and humiliation of women. To the men of ISIS, women are an inferior race, to be enjoyed for sex and be discarded, or to be sold off as slaves.
From ISIS-captured territory in Syria, we saw a photograph of a line of women, covered from head to toe and tied to one another by a rope, as they were being led to a makeshift slave market. Little girls, who were going to school and playing with dolls before ISIS fighters arrived at their doorstep, were married off to men many times their age. ISIS set up marriage bureaus in captured Syrian towns to recruit virgins and widows to marry fighters, and also called on fellow jihadists in other countries to recruit brides for the fighters and send them to Syria. It is hardly likely that these “marriages” were based on consent, as is required in Islam. Where women are concerned, consent does not appear to exist in the lexicon of ISIS fighters.