A new report from the United Nations enumerates the atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State militants in Iraq during 2015, calling on the international community to hold the criminals accountable.
Among the “war crimes” committed by the Islamic State is the systematic use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war, the report declares.
“ISIL continues to deliberately target ethnic and religious communities through a range of abuses and crimes as part of its policy of suppression, expulsion or elimination of those communities, and to employ sexual violence as a tactic of war,” the report states.
The report was jointly issued by U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq and U.N. human rights office in Geneva, and states that ISIS atrocities committed in Iraq constitute “war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.”
The Islamic State is currently holding some 3,500 people as slaves in Iraq, the report estimates, and of these, most are women and children. Of particular concern, “are the potentially thousands of Yezidi women and children (and those from some other ethnic and religious communities) who remain in ISIL captivity.”
The women taken as spoils of war are generally either kept, given as prizes or sold as sex slaves.
“ISIL continued to subject women and children to sexual violence, particularly in the form of sexual slavery,” the report states, estimating that the number of people currently being held in slavery by ISIL “numbers approximately 3,500.”
The document enumerates a series of specific cases involving the capture, murder, and sale of “infidel” women as sex slaves by Islamic State militants.
Two of the more egregious cases reported were the execution of 19 women in Mosul last August “for refusing to have sex with [ISIL] fighters” as well as the ISIL Quran memorization contest in Mosul on the occasion of Ramadan, where “the first three winners would reportedly receive ‘sex slaves’ as prizes.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome