The Islamic State is reportedly resorting to sex trafficking in order to help fund its ventures. Experts say that the increased pressure on IS coming from Iraq and Syria may be causing fighters to try to sell sex slaves as a new source of income.
A report Saturday in The Washington Post traced the story to a Facebook post from last week. Images, which were supposedly posted by an Islamic State fighter, show young women hesitantly posing for the camera. The asking price was approximately $8,000 for each woman, the report said.
It is unknown, however, if the person who posted the images was selling the women himself, or commenting on other fighters’ sales ventures.
Facebook removed the images within hours. They were the first indication of the Islamic State offering women up for sale. According to The Washington Post, the postings came to the attention of the Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors jihadists’ social-media accounts.
The person who posted the images advised his Facebook friends to “get married” and come to the Islamic State’s territories in Iraq and Syria. The poster also fielded questions and reactions from people who commented on the posts — anything from discussing the valuation of the asking price, to how the women looked. The dialogue was casual and matter-of-fact.
The Islamic State has been known to utilize social media to recruit new members worldwide. Popular resources such as Facebook are just one way to attract the attention of impressionable youth. Fortunately, the efficiency of blocking jihadist accounts and postings — as soon as possible after their publication — has improved.
It is estimated that the terror group is holding captive approximately 1,800 women and young girls. These numbers come solely from those who have been captured from Yazidi communities in the region where IS is currently centered. Women are being used as sex slaves for the militant group, and even young girls are susceptible to rape.
The Islamic State, citing ancient Islamic belief, considers any non-Muslim woman — or any Muslim woman who has renounced the IS form of Islamic worship — as a legitimate slave. They are considered spoils of war.
The possibility of sex trafficking comes as no surprise to experts. The suffering of the captive women and girls increases as military and financial pressures on the Islamic State intensifies. The captives are the first to suffer when there are shortages of food, water and medicine. To boot, they are at risk when the militants who are holding them captive are under attack.
In the last few months, three dozen Iraqi and Syrian women who escaped from the militant group, which is currently in control of their home regions, shared their plights in captivity. They recounted how militants would come to their homes, ask women to remove their headscarves, decide who they wanted and carry them off.
Several of those women conveyed how they were constantly raped and traded prior to their escape. They told of how their situation only got worse as, in addition to the constant rape and degradation, they suffered other horrors such as having their children taken from them.
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