Middle East & North Africa

War on Women: Forced Sex in the Name of Religion (Part 2/2)


November 02, 2013 03:02 EDT

Sex jihad should be taken seriously and demands serious investigation. This is the last of a two part series. Read part one here.

Several Arab newspapers claimed that the fatwas condoning such acts were issued by well-known religious leaders, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Mohammad al-Arefe and Yassin al-Ajlouni. The newspapers alleged these leaders, who have large followings in the region, issued another fatwa that allowed for the rape of other Muslim women (who are not Muslim Brotherhood members), if they were kidnapped or taken as prisoners of war, as slaves and victory bounty.

Of course, the religious leaders claimed this was completely justified as they belonged to infidels, the enemy they are at war with. They allegedly added that this was far better than opposition fighters being forced to have sinful sex (intercourse with “good” women outside of marriage), and was to make sure that they could endure the war.

The same newspapers claimed that young women and girls who agreed to join the movement of Jihad were also tricked by the call of other women — who are higher in rank or status within the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious groups — brainwashed into thinking that by joining the holy war, they would be guaranteed a place in heaven.

Additionally, by providing their bodies for sex to several fighters, these religious leaders allegedly told them the act was not a sinful crime (as cases of sexual intercourse with multiple partners would usually be regarded in Islam) but a marriage – thus giving it legitimacy.

However, once these girls discovered they had become sex slaves and, in some cases, as the two Egyptian girls reported to the police, had not even been given the choice of whether to join the Jihad, they realized they were being forced to provide sex for several men per day.

To confirm these stories, there are a number of videos on YouTube which capture live testimonies from women who were raped by Syrian opposition fighters. On one video, a doctor claims that many women who escaped their ordeal were found to have contracted HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Not Mere Rumors

This new call for women to support opposition fighters by providing their bodies for sex is not a mere rumor. The live testimonies on YouTube, the interviews on Egyptian TV and the police reports filed by Muslim Brotherhood girls themselves, all prove that such acts were performed in the name of and justified by Jihad.

This was also confirmed in statements by Sheikh Osman Batikh, the Mufti of the Republic of Tunisia, who stated that 16 Tunisian women had been tricked into going to Syria to provide sexual “services” to the Syrian opposition.

To legitimize sex slavery of brainwashed and tricked women in the name of Islam or any religion or cult should be considered a war crime. The perpetrators of such crimes must be condemned and put to trial.

Such behavior towards women is becoming increasingly common in Syria today, with opposition fighters using such false or deceiving fatwas to rape girls and women.

There are some articles, such as one by David Kenner, which claim there has not been any real evidence for this Jihad al-Nikah and that pro-Assad media has used it to paint opposition fighters in negative terms.

Despite the article’s popularity, it makes something out of nothing. It casts doubt on the motivation of the Tunisian minister and the testimonies of the girls, but does not provide any real evidence that what they are saying is untrue.

Far more important than claims by ministers are the testimonies of the women themselves. If these are documented clearly on YouTube, Facebook and other online forums and are backed up by (in some cases in Egypt) police reports, they deserve further investigation by international experts rather than being used as part of political mudslinging between pro- and anti-Assad supporters.

It is of the utmost importance to establish international tribunals and protection for these girls who have been raped and used as sex slaves, to ensure they do not face any retaliation if they speak out. This means that, as in the case of Syria’s chemical weapons, international experts should go to Syria, protect and listen to the stories of these women.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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