ISIS finally drafts rules on who can have sex with female slaves

After months of confusion by the masters of female slaves, the Islamic State has issued a fatwa that goes into minute detail telling its followers who is eligible to bed a woman held against her will.

For a bunch of nutcases who make the Puritans look like libertines, this fatwa goes into gruesome detail about how to stay on Allah's good side when raping women.


The fatwa was among a huge trove of documents captured by U.S. Special Operations Forces during a raid targeting a top Islamic State official in Syria in May. Reuters has reviewed some of the documents, which have not been previously published.

Among the religious rulings are bans on a father and son having sex with the same female slave; and the owner of a mother and daughter having sex with both. Joint owners of a female captive are similarly enjoined from intercourse because she is viewed as "part of a joint ownership."

The United Nations and human rights groups have accused the Islamic State of the systematic abduction and rape of thousands of women and girls as young as 12, especially members of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq. Many have been given to fighters as a reward or sold as sex slaves.

Far from trying to conceal the practice, Islamic State has boasted about it and established a department of "war spoils" to manage slavery. Reuters reported on the existence of the department on Monday.

In an April report, Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 female escapees who recounted how Islamic State fighters separated young women and girls from men and boys and older women. They were moved "in an organized and methodical fashion to various places in Iraq and Syria." They were then sold or given as gifts and repeatedly raped or subjected to sexual violence.

The fatwa starts with a question: "Some of the brothers have committed violations in the matter of the treatment of the female slaves. These violations are not permitted by Sharia law because these rules have not been dealt with in ages. Are there any warnings pertaining to this matter?"

It then lists 15 injunctions, which in some instances go into explicit detail. For example:

"If the owner of a female captive, who has a daughter suitable for intercourse, has sexual relations with the latter, he is not permitted to have intercourse with her mother and she is permanently off limits to him. Should he have intercourse with her mother then he is not permitted to have intercourse with her daughter and she is to be off limits to him."

While condemning ISIS for its barbarism, we should recall that slavery in the Middle East among rich Arabs is quite common, as is virtual slavery.  Foreign workers are routinely locked up and prevented from going home, exploited as thoroughly as any slave in history.  A current example is the workers building stadiums and other facilities in Qatar for the World Cup to be held in 2022.

A 2014 report from the International Trade Union Confederation projected that “at least 4,000 people in total will die before the start of the World Cup in 2022.”

That number potentially represents a serious underestimation, given that it was derived from “statistics collected by two embassies only—Nepal and India—which account for around 5% of the total migrant workforce.”

The report also makes it clear that “Whether the cause of death is labeled a work accident, heart attack (brought on by the life threatening effects of heat stress) or diseases from squalid living conditions, the root cause is the same—working conditions.”

The first-person accounts in the report are the stuff of nightmares. And yet, this indentured servitude is entirely legal under Qatar’s kafala system, in which an employer has near-total control over the lives of the migrant workers that are fed false promises regarding living conditions, nonexistent safety protocols, wages, and length of employment, and can be kept enslaved by withholding both salaries and passports.

“We have worked hard and just want what is due to us and to go home,” one worker said. “We are stuck now in cramped accommodations, with poor food and no clean drinking water. We are treated like animals.”

So, in a way, ISIS is only doing publicly what the sheikhs, royals, and emirs do in private.  And while ISIS should be singled out for encouraging rape, we should never forget the trafficking in sex slaves and forced labor that are far too common in the region.

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