Are women being kidnapped and forced to perform "sexual jihad" in Syria?
Syrian women, whose families said were kidnapped by security forces, have appeared on state TV recounting stories of how they were either raped by rebels or how they joined al-Qaeda-affiliated groups to fulfill the fighter’s carnal needs in what has been described as “sexual jihad.”
“My father told me to go and take a shower. While bathing, a man came, he looked older than 50 in age, he was only wearing his underwear. He pulled my hair and took me to the room. I was screaming and my father was hearing me, but he didn’t do anything,” Rawan Qadah, a girl under the age of 18, said on screen. She added that her father had sold his “honor” to the rebels.
Al Arabiya reports that unedited versions of the Syrian television videos show how the girls were directed by men in the background to read their statements.
But, according to the Qadah’s family, their daughter was kidnapped by the Syrian security forces after returning back from school last November in her southwestern hometown in Deraa.
Her disappearance has led to the creation of a petition campaign on the global civic campaigning website Avaaz.
Sarah Khaled al-Alawo from eastern Deir al-Zour is another woman who spoke on state TV.
Alawo was described as a member of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. She stated that she catered to the rebels’ sexual demands as a “sexual jihadist.”
But the Alawo family stressed that their daughter was arrested from Damascus University campus after she expressed opinions in support of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“Sexual jihad” or Jihad al-nikah, permitting short marriages to allow for sexual relations with multiple partners, is considered by some hardline Salafists as a legitimate form of holy war.
In another video obtained by Al Arabiya before screening, a Syrian girl was asking people behind the camera to verify “18th of the month?” The date when she was allegedly raped by the rebels.
Recently, the Tunisian women’s ministry said it would come up with a plan to counter the growing number of women allegedly travelling to Syria to sexually comfort militants.
Meanwhile, Tunisia’s Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jeddou told the National Constituent Assembly that Tunisian women had gone to Syria where “they have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100” militants in a speech on Sep. 19.
“After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of ‘'jihad al-nikah’ they come home pregnant,” AFP quoted him as saying to lawmakers.