In the last two months more than 12 women from Melbourne, Australia, have run to conflict zones to support the Islamic State (IS) and become jihadi brides. Five of the 12 are known to have joined IS in Syria while others were either turned back or are unaccounted for, Victoria Police’s new anti-extremism taskforce believes.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Tracy Linford told ABC News she is concerned some of the women who lied to their families about their intentions before leaving Australia have been pushed into sexual servitude in Syria and Iraq, saying:
“Some of the families have contacted us, some of the families were taken by surprise when their daughters said they’re travelling for some other purpose and then they subsequently find out that they’ve gone to the conflict zone.”
Linford said most of the women, aged generally between 18 and 20 although the eldest is 29, had a “romanticised” view of life in a conflict zone where they are told they will play an “important position in growing the caliphate” through “bearing jihadi children.” She continued:
“We want people to understand that it’s not just a phenomenon of young men wanting to travel over to the conflict zone and join ISIS, there are women that are being lured there as well…
“[They think] that they’ll go over there and life will be really good for them, that they’ll be put on a pedestal. The reality is the information that we’re getting back from overseas is that the lifestyle’s not so good at all.
“We’ve had information come back that some women have actually been pushed into sexual servitude, the living conditions can be very tenuous for a young women over there, they can be on rations and living in squalid and dirty conditions.”
Linford urged family and friends to pay attention to young women as well as men, an estimated 30 of which have also joined IS, who might be behaving unusually or become disengaged from their normal family and friendship circles. The police have set up Taskforce Pax to work alongside existing counterterrorism squads to monitor Victorians who may pose such a security risk.