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UN official on life under ISIS: ‘Girls are being stripped naked, examined in slave bazaars’

Zainab Bangura urges Security Council to integrate protection of women into counter-terrorism agenda.
UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura, said Thursday, in a UN briefing to journalists, that sexual violence against females is being committed strategically and systematically by Islamic State operatives in Syria and Iraq on a regular basis, according to the UN News Center.

“Women and girls are at risk and under assault at every point of their lives,” Bangura said of females living in the shadow of IS.

The UN representative traveled to the Middle East mid-to-late April to meet with women who escaped the wrath of Islamic State fighters. She talked to women in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and heard tales of forced and underage marriage, captivity, sex trafficking, and sexual violence.

Bangura said young girls were categorized, stripped, and shipped naked to slave bazaars to be examined and distributed amongst IS fighters.

“ISIS has institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations, using it as a tactic of terrorism to advance their key strategic objectives,” Bangura described.

She told the story of a young woman who was married over 20 times, forced to undergo surgery to restore her virginity at the end of each coerced union.

Sexual violence, according to Dangura, was not only used to satisfy promises made to fighters, but also as a means to humiliate dissenters, draw intelligence information, and dismantle traditional familial and social norms so that the structure of a new caliphate could be formed.


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