Iraqi special forces and Kurdish allies have repeatedly discovered women who were captured and raped by Islamic State fighters, but the media has given it little coverage, according to a Middle East scholar.
In a blog for The Wall Street Journal
, Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Arab and Muslim governments have been virtually silent on the systematic degradation and abuse of women by the group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"ISIS has received considerable world attention for its savage beheadings, executions of captured soldiers and men in conquered towns and villages, violence against Christians and Shiites, and the destruction of non-Sunni shrines and places of worship. But its barbarity against women has been treated as a side issue," wrote Esfandiari, who in 2007 was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison in Tehran for 105 days.
Esfandiari details evidence of women being tied down by ropes and little girls forced into marriages with ISIS fighters through marriage bureaus set up by the extremist group in Syria. Older women, meanwhile, have been sold off as slaves.
"ISIS's men not only leave behind dead bodies in their wake but also women and children who are scarred for life," Esfandiari wrote.
She added that Western NGOs have also been ineffective in protecting abandoned women and children.
"Volunteer fighters from around the world, including from Western countries, who have joined ISIS are complicit in these crimes against women. These young men who grew up in Western cultures seem to have absorbed nothing regarding the value of human life and respect for women."
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