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Before raping a young woman, an ISIS militant knows that what he is doing is not a sin. The reason is that she is a misbeliever and, as he sees it, the Koran does not merely authorise, but even encourages him to do what he does. Hence, before beginning the act itself, he kneels down and prays, an operation that will be repeated also at the end of the “operation”, because this is what the Khalif recommends. “I tried to explain him it was wrong, I implored him to stop’’ tells one of the slaves who managed to escape, but he kept repeating that “this allowed him to be closer to God.

I spoke about it thrice at the United Nations. Some cried, everyone clapped. Then they said ‘we are sorry’, and ‘goodbye’. Those words belong to Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi deputy who has been the first one to launch the alarm, denouncing thus, the sexual enslaving of thousands of Yazidi young women and girls at the hand of the jihadists. This is not yet another description of violence, but the description of a widespread and even institutionalised practice. As a New York Times report has revealed, in the pseudo-Caliphate exist actual slave markets, where ‘‘goods’’ are exhibited and sold in established places. The question concerns mainly Yazidi women who have been a religious minority in Iraq. Last year alone, 5,270 women fell victims to this business and, as the heads of the community confirm, there are about 3,144 women who are now in the hands of the fighters. Last October, ‘Dabiq’, the ISIS weekly, explained that it was legitimate to treat Yazidi women as khums, relics of war. Last month the ISIS Department fatwas explained that ‘you are allowed to have relations, even if the girl has not reached puberty yet”.

Behind this market there is actual bureaucracy, with a network of warehouses, buses reserved for the transportation of the girls, as well as with sales at the end of the season, and notarial contracts signed by the executive court of ISIS.

Obviously, they needed to justify this practice also on a theological level, so as to make it become an actual tool for recruiting men where Islam is more conservative, those areas where sex is under taboo and where it is even prohibited to go out with young women. The issue at stake is not merely surprise in front of the violence that accompanies every war, but also a theology that seeks, at all times validation in the Qur’an and  in the Islamic tradition. This is why a body of domestic politics has compiled a guide that contains the rules for slavery, released last month by the Department of Islamic Research of State and Fatwa. The official ISIS magazine mentioned earlier, Dahiq – that has often given distorted readings and  interpretations of the Koran – argues that in an “Islamicized” society the practice of slavery must be re-established. “Before Satan reveals his doubts to those who are weak in mind and heart – wrote Dabiq – remember that to enslave the families of the infidels and take their women as concubines, is an aspect of the Islamic law that has been firmly established. If someone denied and ridiculed it, (s)he would be denying and ridiculing verses from the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) and therefore would be a deserter from Islam”.

In interviews for the New York Times, young women who have managed to flee tell their story: after the militants had won their land in the north of Iraq, they separated men from women. At that point they were  put on trucks, while their fathers, brothers, and husbands were forced to lie on the ground, then burned alive. The final destination of their journey was Raqqa, where the Galaxy Wedding Hall, a large structure where they are recorded and then sorted out, is located. Some are taken directly to the fields where the jihadists are, others – to different markets of the country. Once they arrive here, they are sent to the “shop”, where there is a “show” room, where customers can look at them. It is detached from the area where they live. There they are photographed in order to be added to the market’s “catalogue”, under the name of Sabaya (slave) no. 1, Sabaya no. 2. When a consumer comes, they are called and “inspected” bare, one at a time, the way men find to be most appropriate.

ISIS, therefore, not only performs actions of brutal violence and inhumanity, but even boasts of being the first Islamic State to “practice slavery on a large scale”, and of what it defines the great apostasy of modern Islam. Obviously also in the world of al-Qaeda – reminds with a hint of mockery Dabiq – the indiscriminate assassination of non-Muslims and slavery were practiced”, but “they sought to avoid making propaganda”. The Islamic State, on the other hand, prides itself on its extremism.

Yesterday the Italian association against violence on women, Telefono Rosa, has launched a petition against sexual enslavement of Yazidi women and girls by the ISIS militants. An opportunity to make their voices heard instead of behaving as nothing happened, as usually.

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