The Appalling treatment of captured women and girls in Islamic State territory has been laid bare in a shocking testimony to the UN.
Zainab Bangura, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, recently toured refugee camps in the Middle East and returned with horror stories told by the victims of the terror group.
“They are institutionalising sexual violence,” she said. “The brutalisation of women and girls is central to their ideology.”
She told of how “pretty virgins” were captured by jihadists after they conquer new areas.
After attacking a village, IS fighters kill all men and boys over 14 and capture the youngest, prettiest virgins, which are sent to their stronghold, Raqqa.
“They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market.
“At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.
“We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheik who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his ‘property’.”
It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 women are enslaved by IS. Most of the slaves are women from the Yazidi minority, who are persecuted as “devil worshippers” by jihadists.
Bangura said “They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality.
“We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act.”
And it appears IS does not discriminate when it comes to meting out brutal treatment to women, whether captured or recruited.
Last week it was revealed Austrian schoolgirl Samra Kesinovic had likely been beaten to death after changing her mind about her life in the so-called caliphate and trying to escape. She had fled Austria to marry and IS fighter and had quickly fallen pregnant to him, according to some reports.
The fate of her friend Sabina Selimovic, who travelled with Samra to Syria last year, is not known, though there are grave fears for her.
Counter-extremism think tank the Institute for Strategic Dialogue analysed the accounts of the women who discussed what life is really like under Islamic State rule.
The UN specialist called for international assistance in providing proper medical and “psychosocial” support for survivors who escaped from the clutches of Islamists.
She said that being able to help these women rebuild their lives would “strip victory away” from the militants.
“This is precisely what IS does not want,” says Bangura.
“It can be a kind of vengeance, helping these women recover and giving them a path to thrive.”