By Madeline Cowan & Naomi Vanderley
The mistreatment of women is not new news. However, women in Iraq and Syria, and other neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, are being abused in horrific ways by the Islamic State (ISIS).
According to Zainab Hawa Bangur, the special representative to the United Nations Secretary General on sexual violence in an article on CNN.com last June, non-Muslim women are being dragged from their families and homes, and endure extreme sexual violence throughout the Middle East. Many outside of the region have no idea of this growing problem. ISIS members use women to raise funds by auctioning them at slave markets and through ransoms paid by the families of the abducted women. ISIS also uses women to recruit male soldiers by promising them young girls and women who the men may freely use as sex slaves.
When the women are first taken, the older women with children are separated from the others because it is the young girls and women that ISIS want to take. The young women are then examined to see if they are virgins and the younger and prettier the girl is, the more likely she will be taken back to the ISIS headquarters to be at the disposal of the group’s members. A woman taken by ISIS if often raped and usually by more than one man. However, ISIS “justifies” and encourages the inhumane act of rape in the name of an extreme interpretation of Islamic law.
Adding insult to injury, many individuals, especially in the Western Hemisphere, are ignorant of the extreme mistreatment of and violence against women in the Middle East. However, via media coverage (television programs, social media, etc.) there have been attempts to raise awareness of this growing tragedy. For example, Bishop Sullivan senior Catherine Warren spoke about recently realizing how gravely mistreated women are by ISIS.
“I was first aware of it when we watched a video in theology last year, and since then the topic has been featured on my favorite show, 60 Minutes,” said Ms. Warren.
Still others at Bishop Sullivan were almost completely oblivious to any crimes being committed against women in Middle East by ISIS.
“I honestly had no idea, but that’s awful women are being treated so badly. Something needs to be done about that,” said senior Jackson Smith.
Exactly! Something does need to be done to end these heinous acts of violence against women in the Middle East. However, people must be made aware if something significant is to be done. Individuals who do know about this concerning situation must spread the word and rid our communities of ignorance in regards to the terrible mistreatment of women by ISIS in the nations of the Middle East.