It’s a horror story that can run endlessly, almost as if on loop. The recent story published in The New York Times about young women kept as sex slaves by ISIS is interspersed with horror, ghastly crime and abhorrence.
It’s a story of medieval barbarity facilitated by modern science and stray religious dogmas to keep the hate and violence intact in the ISIS dominated regions. The NYT interviewed a bunch of freed young Yazidi girls, who are being sent to Germany for rehabilitation. What the women have divulged is utterly horrifying.
ISIS fighters keep the supply of sex slaves constant by not letting the women get pregnant. If by chance any woman gets pregnant, she is forced to undergo abortion so that she can be constantly used by the beasts for gratifying their sexual urges.
While young women and underage captives change multiple hands, they are usually given boxes of contraceptive pills to keep the trouble of pregnancy away. Some of the fighters would make triple sure their slaves would not fill their wombs by giving them all types of contraceptives measures: oral, vaginal, and injectible.
While the Muslim worlds forfeit contraceptives, stating that’s against Islam, it was odd that ISIS men were making sure their slaves won’t conceive. Can there be two versions of the same rule? For ISIS, that’s possible…
The Islamist fanatic group refers to some stray Islamic rule that says Muslim men can’t have sex with a pregnant woman. ISIS cites “centuries-old” rulings stating that the owner of a female slave can have sex with her only after she has undergone ‘istibra’ “the process of ensuring that the womb is empty.”
This no-pregnancy rule is working as a double-edged sword for the enslaved women. If they are found pregnant, they would have to undergo the painful process of abortion; and if not pregnant, then the torture of rapes may multiple men would continue.
In a convoluted way, this law might seem liberal in the sense that a pregnant woman is not pestered due to the delicacy of her situation. But that is far from the truth. Istibra guarantees there is no confusion over a child’s paternity. Eventually, it all comes down the commoditisation of a woman’s body; she is as good as she can conceive or render sexual gratification.
However, the doctor attending to escaped girls in the refugee camps has reiterated that only a few girls were pregnant, which points out that the “empty womb” rule is consistently followed by the ISIS men. The victims are relieved too, because they don’t have to give birth to babies of their violators.
In its official publications, the Islamic State has stated that it is legal for a man to rape the women he enslaves under just about any circumstance. Even sex with a child is permissible, according to a pamphlet published by the group. The injunction against raping a pregnant slave is functionally the only protection for the captured women.
In its manual, the ISIS says that Istibra can be followed by abstinence too. But it also quotes the minority opinion of a Tunisian cleric who in the 1100s argued that it was enough to fulfill merely the spirit of the law. That opens the way for other means, including modern medicine, to circumvent the waiting period.
Fanatics, notwithstanding which religion they espouse, have always had a common dictum: manipulating religious laws for their own benefit. And it’s always the woman who bears the brunt of such lopsided misinterpretations.
The NYT narrates the story of an 18-year-old, who was escorted to the polyclinic for a pregnancy test by none other than the ISIS fighter’s mother! When the young woman’s womb was found empty, she was proudly presented to the son. And when the fighter got tired of the company, the girl was forwarded to his brother. Besides men, ISIS women supporters are spreading violence against their own kind.
While such perpetrations come across huge acts of barbarity and violation of human rights, ISIS members do not see this as a sin. They justify rape, quoting their holy book: The Quran encourages rape of ‘kafir’ (belonging to another religion) women, ISIS believes. Freed victims have narrated that their holders would pray before preying upon the petrified women victims.
If only the men knew, such acts of hate would never ever get them to their god!