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Terrorism: Challenges faced by ISIS rape victims in Iraq

Yazidi women returning home pregnant or with newborn babies are being stigmatized by their own communities

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Women being used as facilitators for carrying out Islamic miki
  • Around 2,000 Yazidi women remain in captivity of ISIS, while the 1500 who have escaped their clutches are returning home either pregnant or, in some cases, with newborn babies
  • Abortion is illegal in Iraq even in the case of rapes, it gives an exception only if the birth would jeopardize a woman’s life
  • According to the Iraqi law, these children will be treated as if they’re born of adultery and, consequently, their mothers will not have the right to raise them

While the world talks about the growing threat of ISIS in developed European countries, Yazidis in Iraq are usually looked over because of their minority status.

Two years after Islamic State militants attacked the Yazidi’s in northern Iraq and took thousands of women and girls as sex slaves, many victims are now returning home pregnant or, in some cases, with newborn babies, Iraqi sources tell VOA.

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Those victims are faced with contradicting cultural and legal challenges: While the former type of challenge is compelling them to undergo abortions or abandon babies, the latter is criminalizing their actions, those sources say.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, nearly 1,500 Yazidi women and girls enslaved by IS have escaped. However, around 2,000 women remain in captivity.

Nemam Ghafouri, the chairwoman of Joint Help for Kurdistan, a Swedish-Kurdish organization that supports displaced Yazidis, told VOA that “the return of Yazidi female victims can be divided into three phases. In the first phase, we received raped women; in the second phase, we received pregnant women; and in the third phase, now, they are coming home with infants.”

More than 200 Yazidi sect members, freed eight months after they were taken captive by Islamic State militants, wait on the edge of Kirkuk for relocation, April 8, 2015.
More than 200 Yazidi sect members, freed eight months after they were taken captive by Islamic State militants, wait on the edge of Kirkuk for relocation, April 8, 2015.

‘Alarming numbers’

According to Ghafouri, the issue of pregnant Yazidi returnees became noticeable to her organization in November 2014, four months after the massive IS attack on Yazidi areas. “Since then, more and more victims have returned home, with some of them eight months pregnant and others nine months,” she said.

“Abortion has been used in all cases I have encountered,” she said.

No data are available on how many victims have returned home pregnant or with infants because they, and the officials, hardly talk about the issue publicly to avoid a backlash from a rather conservative Iraqi society.

VOA reached out to several women who sought abortions or gave birth, but no one agreed to talk.

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Nofel Hamadi Akub, the governor of IS-controlled Nineveh province, said there were approximately 3,000 newborn children with “unknown parentage” in IS-controlled Sunni areas as a result of “sexual jihad.” The number included children born to Iraqi or foreign Sunni women who married IS fighters.

“The most complicated problem facing Baghdad after the liberation of Nineveh will be the issue of children with unknown parentage,” Akub said.

Displaced Yazidis, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State group in Sinjar, Iraq, head toward the Syrian border Aug. 11, 2014.
Displaced Yazidis, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State group in Sinjar, Iraq, head toward the Syrian border Aug. 11, 2014.

Social stigmatization

A small religious minority concentrated mostly in northern Iraq, Yazidis are an insular group, keeping mostly to themselves despite the often bloody realignments the borders and political structures around them have gone through.

Marrying someone from another religion is an unpardonable sin in the Yazidi religion. Similarly, having sex, even under duress, is considered to taint the bodies and souls of the community members.

Consequently, when the IS militants took captive thousands of Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves and forced them into religious conversion, the female victims found themselves being stigmatized by their communities upon their return.

Nevertheless, in September 2014, the spiritual leader of the Yazidis, Khurto Hajji Ismail, widely known as “Baba Sheikh,” called on the community to welcome back the abducted women because they had been “subjected to a matter outside their control.”

That statement has since helped the victims rejoin their community, but newborn infants and pregnancy are not tolerated.

“The victims are our daughters and sisters, but it is unacceptable in our religion to allow the birth of any children if both parents are not Yazidis,” Baba Sheikh told VOA in a phone interview.

“It is also tribally unacceptable and a source of shame,” he said. “If such children are born, wouldn’t people ask who their fathers are? Are they Afghans? Are they Europeans?”

Therefore, abortion is perceived as a solution. However, that raises two other problems: Abortion is illegal in Iraq, and not all women want to undergo the procedure.

Abortion

The ban on abortions in Iraq covers the Kurdistan region as well and applies even in the case of rape. Iraqi law gives an exception only if the birth would jeopardize a woman’s life.

FILE - Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, says there is an "unwritten" agreement among Iraqi authorities to permit abortions for Yazidi rape victims.
FILE – Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, says there is an “unwritten” agreement among Iraqi authorities to permit abortions for Yazidi rape victims.

But Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, said there is an “unwritten” agreement among Iraqi authorities to allow the procedure to be practiced for the Yazidi rape victims.

“It’s an illegal act, according to the Iraqi law, but we’ve come to an understanding with the authority,” Dakhil told VOA. “The doctors refused to cooperate in the beginning. But we have taken the responsibility upon us because the women were forcefully put into the situation.”

To avoid legal consequences and public shame, the victims turn to backstreet abortion clinics, a source inside the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Health who asked not to be identified told VOA.

Newborn babies

To Rezan Dler, a female lawmaker in the Iraqi Council of Representatives who has been working closely with the abducted Yazidis, cases of women who have been raped and want to keep their babies are not uncommon.

“A Yazidi woman who was pregnant for eight months when she escaped IS, she wanted to keep her baby, but her husband insisted on divorcing her if she refused to have an abortion. The couple finally separated. The woman is now living in a refugee camp with her 5-month-old child,” Dler told VOA, describing the circumstances of the Yazidi woman without disclosing her name.

In other cases, the Yazidi women have given their newborn children to infertile Kurdish couples, Dler said.

FILE - A refugee woman from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with a child inside a tent at Nowruz refugee camp in Qamishli, northeastern Syria, Aug. 17, 2014.
FILE – A refugee woman from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, sits with a child inside a tent at Nowruz refugee camp in Qamishli, northeastern Syria, Aug. 17, 2014.

Some women are so resolute on keeping their children that “they’ve indicated they would rather stay under IS slavery if returning home meant losing their babies,” Dler told VOA.

Legal issues

“This is one of the most challenging problems that will face the Iraqi law in the future,” said Xamosh Omar, a court judge and a legal consultant for the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament.

“According to the Iraqi law, these children will be treated as if they’re born of adultery and, consequently, their mothers will not have the right to raise them,” Omar told VOA.

Another legal challenge is religion. Iraqi law, as guided by the Islamic Sharia code, rules that children will hold the religion of their fathers, Omar said. “Does that mean these children will be considered Muslims while they are raised by their Yazidi mothers? There is no legal answer to this.”

Dler is trying to push the Iraqi parliament to find a legal way. But she said chances of passage are very low.

“I am a woman and I understand what raped Yazidi women must go through. But for the Iraqi parliament, this is a shameful topic to be addressed. I doubt they will allow this issue to be even brought into the parliament for discussion, let alone finding a legal answer,” she said. (VOA)

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Is Islamic inequality a conspiracy against the God?

Islam was conducted in a sense it was never meant to be

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Muslims
An eternal religion like Islam is always targeted for its preachings. Wikimedia Commons

Religion was the purest creation by humans to guide them to a better life, but it is clear that religion is being misused by many to create chaos and misery.

Islam, which is the World’s second largest religion, has become to symolize as the largest religion of devastation. A religion that believes that there is only ‘One God’ and that is their God, has now come to stand for turbulence and violence.

Historically too, Islam has always been linked with ‘terrorism’, but what gave rise to this scenario? The synopsis of this situation is not the right interpretation of ‘Quran’. The term ‘Jihad’ which literally means ‘to strive for the betterment of society’ has been deceitfully presented which leads to production of terrorists like Kasab (he quoted it in his letter to his family). The greed for 72 virgin women, which is just a story, makes them a ‘person of mass destruction. ‘ In the name of God, some ‘juvenile’ people choose the path which they are not familiar with.’

Islamic Terrorism
It is often stated that most of the ‘Terrorists’ are Muslims.Wikimedia Commons

A religion should always teach and preach about equality but Islam surely fails when it comes to their women. They are not so privileged as men are in an Islamic society. Why is it so? Does religion discriminate between two on the basis of gender? Why a Muslim man is taught to think about 72 virgin women but a Muslim woman is told to consider one man as her god? Why a man has a right to marry thrice but a woman is allowed to marry just once?

Islamic scholar Imam Tawhidi’s tweet raised a question on the fairness of the Islamic religion.

The disparity is not limited here. A woman who leaves her home, her parents, her career and even her surname; a woman who makes a home a home; a woman who sacrifices her everything for a man; is the one who is out thrown from her own home just by saying ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’. Is a relation between a husband and wife established on these three words? Why only Muslim men favoured with such power?

Culture of Hijab
Women are meant to cover their full body in Islam. Wikimedia Commons

The word ḥijāb in the Quran refers not to women’s clothing, but rather a spatial partition or curtain. However, the preachers of Islam say that women should get all her parts covered by confidently stating that it is mandated in the Holy Quran. Yet another example of inequality on the basis of gender but the compelling truth is that these customs and thesis are created by the human itself and not Islam. This is how Islam is misused to spread fallacious beliefs among the people and making their life miserable.

Does Islam need to reform? Or do preachers of Islam need to introspect and reform?

– Sumit Buchasia of NewsGram. Twitter @sumit_buchasia

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Ranaghat Nun Rape Case : Bangladeshi Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment for Raping Elderly Nun in 2015

As per the 2015 government data, 34,651 cases of rape were officially recorded. However, it is estimated that the true figure is much higher than this, given half of the cases go unreported.

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Ranaghat Nun Rape Case
Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Pixabay

Kolkata, November 8, 2017 : Cases of sexual assault are not new to the country. Sadly, the number of reported cases has witnessed a sharp rise in recent years. Countless insane reasons have been repeatedly cited to defend rapes that ranged from wearing short clothes, staying out till late hours, being over-friendly with men, among many others. But how do you justify the rape of an elderly nun? How do you justify rape at all?

Ranaghat nun rape case dates back to 2015. Two years after the incident, a court in Kolkata has now convicted and sentenced a Bangladeshi man to life imprisonment, for raping an elderly nun. The incident had taken place at a school in Ranaghat, West Bengal in 2015.

On March, 2015, five men had broken into the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat with a motive to loot the church and vandalize the idols. Consequently, they attacked the oldest nun of the school, aged 71, who had tried to stop them.

On November 7, two years after the Ranaghat nun rape case, the City Sessions Court announced 28-year-old Nazrul Islam, a Bangladeshi man guilty of rape and attempted murder of the nun.

Previously, Islam had been arrested after the nun had identified him from a list of suspects.

Ranaghat Nun Rape Case: What Exactly Happened?

As per a report by PTI, Arnab Ghosh, a police superintendent in Ranaghat revealed that the men, all aged between 20 and 30, jumped the boundary of the co-ed school around 11:40 pm in March 13.

After disconnecting the telephone lines, the five men choked the security personnel on duty and entered the nuns’ room. Upon being stopped by the oldest nun of the school, they forced her into another room where she was raped.

The men then went on to steal cash, and other expensive materials that included a camera, mobile phone and laptop.

The men also attacked Convent of Jesus and Mary and vandalized and stole holy items.

Reactions To The 2015 Ranaghat Nun Rape Case

The nun was subjected to such brutal treatment that she had to be rushed to a hospital on March 14 where she underwent an operation.

The Ranaghat nun rape case sought intense reactions from the larger public. Hundreds of angry locals, priests and schoolgirls took to the state to protest against the incident – highways were blocked, shops were closed and candlelight marches were carried out as slogans demanding justice were raised.

Soon after the incident was reported, the West Bengal government ordered the Criminal Investigation Department to carry out investigations that made use of CCTV footage to arrest the five accused.

The five accused were arrested after three months.

Delayed But Deserved Verdict

A court in West Bengal on November 8 has now sentenced Nazrul Islam to life imprisonment for raping, and allegedly attempting to murder the aged nun.

The court also convicted his other five accomplices – Gopal Sarkar , Kumar Sarkar, Mohd Selim Sheikh, Ohidul Islam and Khaledar Rahman of robbery, and sentenced them to 10 years of imprisonment.

The verdict comes two years after the incident had taken place.

The delay in the verdict raises serious concerns on the security of women in the count.

Rape Culture in India?

As per the 2015 government data, 34,651 cases of rape were officially recorded. However, it is estimated that the true figure is much higher than this, given half of the cases go unreported.

Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Consequently, laws on sexual violence were strengthened.  However, the extents to which they are enforced remain questionable.

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Wonder Woman Gal Gadot says second pregnancy was ‘part of the plan’

Gal Gadot was in the early stages of her pregnancy while filming "Justice League".

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Gal Gadot
Gal Gadot talks about her well-planned pregnancy. Wikimedia

Los Angeles, November 6, 2017 : Actress Gal Gadot had planned her second pregnancy well so that it caused minimal disruption to her work commitments.

The 32-year-old actress – who has daughters Alma, six, and Maya, seven months, with husband Yaron Versano – says she knew she wanted a second child, but wanted to plan it carefully, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

“I scheduled it so I wasn’t going to be too pregnant for ‘Justice League’ or when I promoted ‘Wonder Woman’. I had a lot of luck. It’s been difficult, but I had wanted to have a second child for a while,” Gadot told Glamour magazine.

She was in the early stages of her pregnancy while filming “Justice League”.

“It was challenging with morning sickness and migraines. But you adjust. You get used to feeling like s**t and having to perform,” she said, and added that working with the likes of Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Henry Cavill and Ezra Miller in the movie was fun”.

“Making the film with so many men, I’ve never felt so safe. Big men!”

The success of “Wonder Woman” led to several offers come her way, but Gal Gadot remains grounded.

“I’m super-appreciative because I know it’s all a big game and the rules are known in advance. When you’re successful, the phone will ring, if a film flops, there will be crickets. So I take everything with a grain of salt and enjoy it while it’s there,” she added. (IANS)