In a new report focusing on the employment of sexual assault as a weapon of terrorism, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced violence against women and called for a concerted effort to put an end to the atrocities of Islamist extremists.
According to the report, since mid-2014, “there has been a significant increase in the number of reported cases of sexual violence perpetrated by terrorist groups,” particularly the Islamic State.
“The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups,” Ban said.
The report chronicled accounts of rape, sexual slavery, and forced marriage being used as tactical weapons of jihad by extremists such as the Islamic State group and Boko Haram.
Ban said that efforts “to degrade or destroy” the Islamic State group, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, Ansar Dine, and al-Qaeda affiliates “are an essential part of the fight against conflict-related sexual violence.”
The report underscored the activities of Boko Haram as a particularly egregious example of the use of sexual violence, and the text was released a day before the first anniversary of the April 14 kidnapping of 276 students from a school in the Nigerian town of Chibok.
“Forced marriage, enslavement, and the ‘sale’ of kidnapped women and girls are central to Boko Haram’s modus operandi and ideology,” the report stated. “Abducted girls who refuse marriage or sexual contact within marriage have faced violence and death threats.”
According to the report, sexual violence “is part of the tactics applied by the Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist groups to spread terror, persecute religious and ethnic minorities, and eradicate entire populations who oppose their ideology.”
One of the many examples of sexual abuse documented in the report was a recruitment strategy promising aspiring jihadists a Yazidi woman “between the ages of 18 and 35 years” as an incentive for signing up.
The United Nations estimates that 1,500 civilians have been turned into sex slaves by the Caliphate, added to a significant increase in other reported cases of sexual violence committed by Islamist terrorist groups.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.