Sex slavery refers to the enslavement of persons to fulfill one’s sexual desire. This is a common crime committed in the conflicted regions of Iraq and Syria by the terrorist group ISIS, more commonly against Yazidi women.
Yazidi is a community living in Iraq and Syria, who are polytheists and have religious beliefs which are a mix of Mesopotamian and Islamic beliefs. ISIS primarily targets this community because, in their eyes, they are ‘non-believers.’
The Islamic State leadership created a self-styled “religious” rationale to justify the sexual abuse of Yazidi women and girls as young as nine years old.
This trade goes forth even today and has built up to such an extent that it has created a concrete infrastructure of an economy. So how is it organized?
The base is formed of transportation, communication and connectivity. Transportation, communication and connectivity are primary to any trade and without a strong transportation, communication and connectivity, the trade might as well have collapsed. ISIS, with their abundance of abandoned buses and trucks and a fleet of loyal drivers, easily transport the captives from their villages to the base. This is a tightly-woven network as the drivers are paid lucratively and employment is guaranteed, hence ensuring their loyalty and thus making the base strong.
The middle half comprises of viewing rooms and cells. Next, there are the viewing rooms and the cells where the captives are kept. Viewing rooms are rooms where the captives are judged on the basis of their appearance and their virginity, and their bodies are reduced to values varying from 3 banknotes to 10,000 dollars. For this purpose, ISIS has also developed an app which calculates the value of any slave, a platform where slaves can be bought and sold. Cells are rooms where the captives are kept temporarily until one of the terrorists buys them, they are gifted to someone or are given to the terrorist as part of their salary. The conditions of these rooms are very unhygienic, with sewage running over the floor, with sand flies buzzing around, minimum light and minimum ventilation. These women are kept together in stuffy rooms, with very little air circulation and in close proximity, making them more prone to diseases. The owners of these buildings make a huge amount of money, leasing their building to ISIS for this purpose.
The upper half is formed of the internal trade itself. The internal trade, refers to the buying and selling of these women within the institution. The value at which these women are bought or sold depends upon their age, appearance and virginity. Virgins are sold for higher prices than the other women. The transactions take place in the form of either money or ammunition. This exchange of money or ammunition for women captives has created a complex web, with many captors owning around three captives. Many have even started a business of selling women for a profit in the slave marketplace.
The pain and misery these women go through cannot be overlooked. Those lucky enough to escape have blood-curdling stories to share about what happens after the dollar bills are exchanged, behind closed doors after their bodies are bought or sold.
Photo: Hasan Almasi