Islamic State (IS) reportedly burned alive a young woman for refusing to take part in an “extreme sex act,” it has been claimed.
The violent extent of the Islamic State‘s shocking war crimes have been revealed by a UN worker, Zainab Bangura, with refugees speaking of the terrifying and abhorrent treatment of women in IS-held areas of the Middle East, with young virgins being bought and sold at auction by wealthy sheikhs.
Bangura said the woman burned alive was Zuhour Kati, 20.
Speaking as the United Nations’ special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Bangura told of how female refugees had escaped the shocking conditions forced upon them by IS, sometimes known as ISIS or ISIL.
Iraq’s minority Yazidi women are particularly at risk, with the extremist group believing them to be “devil-worshippers” and “apostates”.
A jihadi bride recently wrote in the Islamic State’s propaganda magazine Dabiq of how raping Yazidi women is considered acceptable “because the Qu’ran condones it”.
“They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality,” Bangura said. “We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.
“After attacking a village, [IS] splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.
“There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. 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 sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his ‘property’.”
Having worked on similar cases of sexual violence across the world, Bangura says the Islamic State’s crimes were the worst she has seen.
The UN specialist collected information, which she said left her sick, from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
The hardline extremist fighters of IS have even banned their female slaves from wearing headscarves after some used them to hang themselves.
Aid workers have reported finding a nine-year-old girl pregnant after being released by the group, having been subjected to a horrific barrage of sexual exploitation by at least ten men.
Speaking to CNN, a Yazidi and escaped slave said: “They would line about 50 of us up at a time, in rows of 10. They would say don’t move, don’t cry or we will beat you. The men would come in and describe the kind of girl they wanted and then they would pick and choose as they pleased.”
Now Zainab Bangura is calling for a global response to the humanitarian crisis brought on by the fundamentalist surge in the Middle East.
“We need a humanitarian surge. It can’t be just Canada, it can’t be just Europe — everyone has a role to play in attending to the sheer scope to the damage,” she told the Toronto Star.
“There are 40,000 men from more than 100 different countries inside the Islamic State using brutal sexual violence as a strategic tactic to terrorize. We need all 100 countries involved, helping to deal with the aftermath.
“The girls that I sat with, I told them, ‘They tried to strip away your humanity. Now we must do everything possible to help you strip victory away from the Islamic State – we will have your backs, we can provide counselling, we can help you go to school and make something of yourselves, become whole again.’
“This is precisely what ISIS does not want. It can be a kind of vengeance, helping these women recover and giving them a path to thrive. But they need qualified medical and psychosocial support and neither the UN nor the regional authorities are in a position to provide it.”