Islamic State has imposed new dress codes in areas it controls in Syria, forcing women to wear only black clothes and punishing those who don’t obey, according to residents and activist groups.
For IS, any women’s clothing that is not black is considered seductive.
“They [IS] arrested me because my wife and mother had colorful clothes on,” Abu Hassan, a resident from the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, told a Syrian opposition website, All4Syria. He disguised his name for fear of retribution.
Abu Hassan said the women were in their house recently when religious police drove by and noticed their colorful clothing.
“They didn’t release me until I paid the equivalent of one gram of gold,” he told All4Syria on Wednesday.
His story could not be independently verified by VOA; but IS prohibits contact with outsiders in areas it controls.
Since gaining control of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014, IS has imposed harsh guidelines on civilians, particularly women.
In addition to penalizing women for the way they dress, IS religious police — also known as al-Hisbah, Arabic for “accountability” — have arrested a number of women for hanging laundry on rooftops.
IS “considers anything related to women as tempting for men,” said a resident in the IS de-facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, who insisted on anonymity. He told VOA that in order for his wife and two adult daughters to leave the house, he must accompany them.
He also recalled what happened to his ailing neighbor who let his wife visit her sister in a nearby district with no male escort.
“They gave him 40 lashes in public in addition to several days in prison,” he said.
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As the U.S.-led international coalition ramped up its bombing campaign against IS positions in Syria and Iraq, IS recently increased its already strict moral codes, local activists say.
“The bombing campaign has affected Daesh [IS] on so many levels,” said Hussam Eisa, a member of “Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently,” a group that reports on IS abuses in Syria.
Eisa said the U.S.-led coalition, Russian and Syrian government airstrikes against IS have made the group look weak in the eyes in locals. “And therefore, Daesh is desperately taking these measures,” Eisa said, using an Arabic term for IS.
Despite these airstrikes, IS militants have made some advances in government-held areas of oil-rich Deir Ezzor in recent weeks. According to local reports, IS controls much of the area around a military air base that it has besieged for months. (Source: VOA)