Fighting sin with sin, the twisted morals of rapists in the Syrian conflict
“Wahhabist fighters have called the rape as ‘Jihad al-Nikah,’ assuming women and girl as war prisoners, and raping them as permissible,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, in the first official recognition of the phenomenon in Syria.
Over the past months, religious representatives across the Middle East might have taken different sides in the Syrian conflict but they all agree on one point: no matter which God Syrian women pray to, the brave fighters can prey on whoever they like.
In a video posted last month on Youtube, Jordanian cleric Salafi Sheikh Yasir al-Ajlawni legitimized the raping of Syrian "Alawites and other non-Sunni, non-Muslim women", Human Events reported.
Fear not for the other religious strands, Saudi preacher Muhammad al-Arifi had already enacted a Fatwa allowing jihadi fighters to have "intercourse marriage" with the Syrian captives as a way of cheering up "the warriors of Islam".
Al-Arifi also called for the intercourse to last long enough to ensure "each fighter his turn" but reassured the girls that women who yield themselves as "short-term intercourse brides" are guaranteed entry into al-Janah (Paradise).
"With every war and major conflict, as an international community we say 'never again' to mass rape," said Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, who is co-chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict.
"Yet, in Syria, as countless women are again finding the war waged on their bodies--we are again standing by and wringing our hands".
A recent report by the Women's Media Center, based on over 150 stories by Syrian men and women, found that 85% of these women aged between 7 and 46 years, had been sexually abused, with about 40% probably being gang-raped.
Erin Gallagher, a former investigator of sexual and gender-based violence for the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Syria has done extensive research, speaking with Syrian women in Jordanian and Turkish camps.
"There are more victims out there than what we are finding," and getting a clear vision of the scope of the phenomenon "is going to take time, trust building, and a broader, holistic approach," she told The Atlantic.