IS and Nusra 'terrorising civilians with sexual violence'

IS and Nusra 'terrorising civilians with sexual violence'
UN reports increase in the use of sexual violence in Syria and beyond, including rape, slavery and forced abortion, to suppress and persecute civilians.
2 min read
16 April, 2015
The IS group has forced at least 1,500 people into sex slavery, the UN says

The Islamic State, Nusra Front and other militant groups in Syria and Iraq use sexual violence to "spread terror" among civilians, the UN has said.

The report on conflict-related sexual violence, published on Wednesday, said there had been a "disturbing trend" in sexual violence in 2014.

"Sexual violence has been used as part of the ISIL [IS] strategy of spreading terror, persecuting ethnic and religious minorities and suppressing communities that oppose its ideology," it said.

According to the UN report, the IS group had targeted Yazidi women and girls between eight and 35, who are sold into slavery or offered as "gifts" to encourage recruits.

The UN estimated that up to 1,500 civilians had been forced into sexual slavery by IS, most of whom belong to religious and ethnic minorities. The UN also reported a significant increase in sexual violence since mid-2014, perpetrated by groups across Syria and Iraq.

The report said "rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, forced pregnancy and forced abortion" had been used, "including as a form of religious and ethnic persecution".

     Sexual violence has been used as part of the IS strategy of spreading terror
UN report on sexual violence in conflict

It said sexual violence against "women, girls, men and boys has been a characteristic of the Syrian conflict from its inception".

"The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups," it says, adding that reports had also been received in Mali, Nigeria and Somalia.

There have been increased reports of growing numbers of foreign IS fighters marrying Syrian women in the past few months. The marriages are often forced through by the IS with threats.

In some cases, women attempt to escape or commit suicide, as was the case with Fatima al-Abbo who committed suicide in Raqqa in 2014 after being forced to marry a Tunisian IS fighter.

The report was prepared by Zainab Hawa Bangura, the UN special representative on sexual violence.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.