By Divya Bansal:
A sex worker is not a victim of a man, an outlaw, who with their own volition, controls the sexual channel between nature and culture. But there are times when they are forced into this practice from an early age. It is appalling to witness girls, as young as 12 years old, becomes the victim of human trafficking. Imagine a case where sex slavery is taken as something that can be justified on the grounds of religion. So much so, that it is called ‘divine’ and a practice ‘approved’ by a deity. It is termed as a practice that brings the slave and the owner closer to heaven and an ultimate release of the soul. It is seen as a process of purification.
Excess of anything is harmful and blindly following an ideology without rationally reasoning it may prove to be destructive. There is a chunk of terrorists who are a major threat to world peace because of two main reasons: Firstly, it is almost impossible to collate them back into normal society because they have been brainwashed rigorously. Secondly, their agenda of continuing and expanding their religious beliefs is so evident and strong that they leave no stone unturned in making sure that the perpetuity of their norms exist even if they physically get destroyed. They make sure that the future generation is ready to take over and re-build terror.
When ISIS took responsibility for the Paris attacks in November 2015, it was a clear indication that they have a fearless attitude. Their regular videos of beheading journalists, shamelessly making it viral, make sure that their presence is felt, especially on social media. They disregard every emotion and every human regardless of their age and the only ideology that they kept supreme is the fundamental thought of ‘continuation and expansion’. The group’s ideology is defined as radical Islamist that aims to establish a ‘caliphate’ – a state ruled by a single political and religious leader according to Islamic law. Furthermore, they are jihadists who adhere to an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam and consider themselves the only true believers. They hold that the rest of the world is made up of unbelievers who seek to destroy Islam, justifying attacks against other Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Apart from mass killings, bombings and brutal practises, ISIS seeks to ‘teach a lesson’ to non-Muslims in another horrendous way. Keeping sex slaves has become a trending practice with this terrorist outfit. They believe that it is one of the best forms of revenge they can take on their enemies. Rather than taking the lives of men, they prefer to take the woman under their control and auction them among the soldiers. The astonishing fact is that this group has its own set of rules which the owner has to strictly follow when buying and ‘maintaining’ slaves.
In an official statement released by ISIS, the religious justification regarding the policy towards Yazidis (ethnically Kurdish religious community, now under the control of ISIS because they are considered ‘kafirs’ i.e. non-believers of Islamic norms) is explained.
“Prior to the taking of Sinjar, Shariah students in the Islamic State were tasked to research the Yazidis to determine if they should be treated as an originally polytheist group or one that originated as Muslims and then apostatised, due to many of the related Islamic rulings that would apply to the group, its individuals, and their families. Because of the Arabic terminologies used by this group to describe themselves or their beliefs, some contemporary Muslim scholars have classified them as possibly an apostate sect, not an originally polytheist religion, but upon further research it was determined that this group is one that existed since the pre-Islamic ignorance, but became ‘Islamisised’ by the surrounding Muslim population, language, and culture, although they never accepted Islam nor claimed to have adopted it. The apparent origin of the religion is found in the magianism of Ancient Persia, but reinterpreted with elements of Sabianism (the converts of Islam mentioned in Quran), Judaism, and Christianity, and ultimately expressed in the heretical vocabulary of extreme Sufism.”
Another pamphlet clarified which women may be enslaved and specifies that female slaves are women “from among people of war who have been captured by Muslims.” It explains that it is permissible to capture ‘kitabiyat’ (Jewish and Christian women) and polytheists, but that it is still disputed over the capturing of apostate women. The consensus leans towards forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it is permissible. ISIS “leans towards accepting the consensus.”
ISIS continues to justify, elevate and celebrate sexual violence against women as ‘spiritually beneficial’. In various interviews of former kidnapped women, they were noted saying that members of ISIS considered this practice of raping a woman, who is not a follower of Islam as ‘ibadah’. The personal encounters of various Yazidi women where the entire process is termed as ‘systematic rape’ is a clear signal of how blindly the ISIS group is led and bent towards a thought process, where before and after forcefully having sex with a woman, they kneel down to pray and feel closer to Allah. They also believe, that is the supreme punishment they can possibly give to a female non-believer of Islam, thus feeling like a messenger of Allah himself. Furthermore, the pamphlet issued specifies the manifesto, procedure and legal remedies to be followed while practising sex slavery.
Few of the illogical norms are that a man can have sex immediately after possession if only she is a virgin, otherwise ‘purification’ of the uterus is mandatory. He has to own the slave exclusively and not under any partnership. They are not allowed to have sex with the maids of their wives because this was one of the main reasons why sex slavery prevailed and gained acceptance. According to Islamic rules, it would prevent a man from involving in prohibited temptation (with the maid) resulting in a sin of illegal sex, whereas slavery is legally and religiously accepted. The official ‘rape handbook’ specifies the fact that the owner cannot be rude or harsh to the slave. He cannot assign her work which is off her limits. He needs to hold compassion. It is seen as an ‘act of serving mankind’ which Allah preaches and how by being kind, they can get closer to heaven. To add to it, if the owner sets a slave free, Allah rewards him by freeing his body from the pain of hell fire.
As many as 5000 women were abducted during 2015, and around 3500 are still captivated. The older, unattractive women are either killed on the spot or chased out of their houses, while the younger ones were captivated, raped multiple times and then sold in the market. They are often ‘gifted’ among friends and re-sold too. Their pricing depends upon their age and there is a thorough body check-up by the potential buyers before the actual sale. Girls are often stripped down to complete nudity and then auctioned accordingly. They are often traded for cash, arms and ammunition or exchanged for another slave.
The horrifying reality of ISIS is just not confined towards terrorism and mass killings. Their ideologies are a big question towards the war crimes they are boldly marching forward with. It is alarming to notice that where on one side feminism thrives, the other side is facing startlingly opposite things where women are not just raped but are taught to accept it as their ‘destiny’.
Another disappointing part is where ISIS is training its upcoming generations with even more gruesome ideologies to carry forward its legacy even if the current clan gets destroyed. The ‘Cubs of the Caliphet‘ are taught to hate ‘kafirs’, disregard human emotions and inject supreme hatred towards other religious groups except Sunni Muslims. It is a question of major concern for not just world peace but the protection of basic humanity. It is disappointing to witness the failed attempts to tackle this group and the fact that a chunk of terrorists have the ability to threaten and send out shocking waves to practically threaten the supremely powerful U.S. ISIS has managed to be in the headlines almost every day and sadly every time it is grows, its operations grow in geometric progression.
The purpose of religion should be to control oneself and not criticise others. It is meant to put the mind at rest and not at dissonance that leads to self-destruction and catastrophic effects on others. If religious groups like these start growing in numbers, it will be a ground of war soon. Religion has caused enough unrest in the past. It is high time we understand that the world is de-globalising again and the quantum of insecurity is making the population territorial by nature. It is not just trade, economy and employment but each one, irrespective of their age, necessarily needs religious literacy which is least talked and understood about but exploited and misunderstood.