Tag Archives: sharia law

Raped and Forced to Give Blood to Jihadi Captors

Yazidi sex slave held by ISIS with her baby reveals how they forced girls to give transfusions to keep wounded fighters alive

  • First Yazidi sex slave to bravely reveal her identity exposes horror of ISIS 
  • Hamshe describes being held captive by jihadis with her young baby boy 
  • The 19-year-old was seized after her husband was murdered by militants 
  • She says: ‘They forced Yazidi girls to give blood to wounded fighters’  
  • BBC Arabic investigation finds pioneering activist tracking hundreds of kidnapped victims 

By LARISA BROWN FOR MAILONLINE

Sex slave: Hamshe, a Yazidi girl from Iraq, is only 19 yet has suffered enough torment for a lifetime, having been held captive as a sex slave by Isis militants for 28 days with her baby before she escaped

Sex slave: Hamshe, a Yazidi girl from Iraq, is only 19 yet has suffered enough torment for a lifetime, having been held captive as a sex slave by Isis militants for 28 days with her baby before she escaped

A pregnant teenager who was captured by Islamic State militants has revealed how girls are being forced to give blood transfusions to keep their attackers alive.

Hamshe – who is understood to be the first Yazidi slave to reveal her identity – has told of how sickening Islamist jihadists have been using the blood of captured women and children for wounded fighters in the battlefield.

The 19-year-old, who also has a baby with her husband who is believed to have been murdered by militants, was held captive for 28 days before she escaped.

She said: ‘When each of them took a Yazidi girl, one of them took me to his house and locked me inside a room and told me ‘I will not give you food or water if you refuse to marry me’.’

‘They forced the Yazidi girls to donate blood to IS wounded fighters. Which God allows these acts?’

Hamshe's escape from captivity with Isis was dramatic: 'One night my baby was crying from thirst. I knocked at the door and saw all the guards sleeping outside. I took a bottle of water from them and I ran away with my baby and walked for four hours'

Hamshe’s escape from captivity with Isis was dramatic: ‘One night my baby was crying from thirst. I knocked at the door and saw all the guards sleeping outside. I took a bottle of water from them and I ran away with my baby and walked for four hours’

Dressed in all black and wearing a headscarf while slumped on a dirty floor in Iraq, she described how she managed to run away from her captors while holding her baby.

‘One night my baby was crying from thirst. I knocked at the door and saw all the guards sleeping outside. I took a bottle of water from them and I ran away with my baby and walked for four hours’, she said.

She said she came across an Arab man who took her into his home and looked after her for three days. She added: ‘Then they drove me to a Peshmerga checkpoint in Barda Rash. I was at the checkpoint for 7 hours. Then my brother came and took me back home.’

Her mother added: ‘I couldn’t imagine that my daughter will come back. We thank God for that. Our family is destroyed. The Yazidi community has been destroyed.

‘This tragedy has done us enough damage for the rest of our lives.’

Speaking of the moment she was captured by IS militants and moved to a different location in Iraq, Hamshe added: ‘I can never forget when they separated men and women from each other. It was very painful to witness women and girls being taken as a war spoils.

‘Each IS fighter was holding the hand of a Yazidi girl and took her for himself. It was harder than facing death.’

Her plight – and that of many others – was revealed in a new documentary, Slaves of the Caliphate, which screened on BBC Arabic.

Horrific memories: Hamshe told campaigner Nareen Shammo, left, how Isis forced Yazidi girls to donate blood to IS wounded fighters. Hamshe asked: 'Which God allows these acts?'

Horrific memories: Hamshe told campaigner Nareen Shammo, left, how Isis forced Yazidi girls to donate blood to IS wounded fighters. Hamshe asked: ‘Which God allows these acts?’

Activist Nareen Shammo has been keeping tracks of hundreds of kidnapped women and has worked tirelessly to locate them and negotiate their return. She said of the blood transfusions: ‘I work on the Yazidi cases every day.

‘This is the first time I’ve heard such a thing, they even take our girls and old women’s blood. They use it for their wounded IS fighters.’

It is the latest example of the depraved lengths Islamist jihadists are willing to go to in the name of Islam.

The horror of Isis fighters taking Yazidi sex slaves was revealed in an Amnesty International report last December. It found that Islamic State is kidnapping thousands of women and girls as young as 12. They are then traded in open markets as sex slaves for as little as £16 each.

Too young: The BBC documentary about sex slaves being held by Isis in Iraq and Syria shows how girls in refugee camps, like this girl above, are vulnerable to attack 

Too young: The BBC documentary about sex slaves being held by Isis in Iraq and Syria shows how girls in refugee camps, like this girl above, are vulnerable to attack 

After being abducted from their homes, they are sold as playthings to the highest bidder, usually IS commanders, or gifted to the ‘bravest’ fighters as rewards for their services to jihad.

Ms Shammo, who has come under constant death threats, has been using Facebook to identify young captured slaves and communicates with them on their mobiles, which they hide from the militants.

At one point during the footage, a militant seizes the phone of a girl she is trying to rescue and adds: ‘The truth is they’re in IS hands, they will convert to Islam and live under IS protection.’

Another victim, who was captured by fighters at the age of 21, said she had been told to agree to be a gift for Abu Bakir Al Baghdadi, the head of IS, but she had refused.

She said: ‘I saw everything, I saw girls being raped, I witnessed their torture. I saw babies separated from their mothers. Some children were 5 and 6 years old when they were taken from their families.

‘They killed our fathers, uncles and everyone. There is no horror I haven’t experienced. I lost my senses.

‘There is nothing worse than rape.

‘One of the leaders took a 13-year-old girl to his house, locked the room and told his children she is a Yazidi girl who converted to Islam, that he will teach her how to pray and read the Koran.

‘In fact he was raping her during that time. She told me she was raped there for three days.’

Refugee families: This little boy lives in a refugee camp where no woman or girl is safe from the attentions of Isis

Refugee families: This little boy lives in a refugee camp where no woman or girl is safe from the attentions of Isis

The Islamic State believe that captive Yazidi women are like property, exchanging them in some cases for as much as $10,000 each.

Over 300 women have been released since August 2014 but it is estimated that over 2600 women remain captive.

The Yazidi religious minority community in Iraq says 3,500 of its women and girls are still being held by the so-called Islamic State (IS), many being used as sex slaves.

Escaped slaves have told how they are traded in vile markets where men barter for their bodies.

According to a document, obtained by website Iraqinews.com, just £27 will fetch a Yazidi or Christian woman aged between 40 and 50.

Chillingly, a child between one and nine will fetch four times that.

One escaped slave told the BBC: ‘They put us up for sale. Many groups of fighters came to buy. We couldn’t sleep properly because new groups came at all hours,’ she says, almost whispering.

Human tragedy: Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walked towards the Syrian border last August 11, 2014

Human tragedy: Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walked towards the Syrian border last August 11, 2014

Living in misery: A woman collects water in a Yazidi refugee camp in Iraq where Isis target vulnerable girls as young as 12 to become sex slaves 

Living in misery: A woman collects water in a Yazidi refugee camp in Iraq where Isis target vulnerable girls as young as 12 to become sex slaves 

‘Sometimes they brought girls back who had been beaten, injured. When they recovered, they were sold again. Eventually, they took all the girls. The women were left behind [and sold last].

‘Whatever we did, crying, begging, it made no difference. An Islamic State sheikh took the money. It wasn’t much. A fighter showed us 15,000 Iraqi dinars [$13; £8] and said: ‘This is your price.”

Last December, a pamphlet revealed how IS has given out orders on the proper use of women as slaves.

The extremist group’s Department of Research and Fatwas (religious edicts) issued a document with the chillingly matter-of-fact title: ‘Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves’.

Posted on a jihadist web forum, and allegedly given out after prayers in Mosul, Iraq, it says Christians, Jews and Yazidi women can all be taken as slaves.

Women can be bought, sold, and given as gifts; they can be disposed of as property if a fighter dies.

A mother's nightmare: Hamshe's mother told the BBC that 'the Yazidi community has been destroyed. This tragedy has done us enough damage for the rest of our lives.'

A mother’s nightmare: Hamshe’s mother told the BBC that ‘the Yazidi community has been destroyed. This tragedy has done us enough damage for the rest of our lives.’

The pamphlet’s Q&A format includes the following:

Question: Is it allowed to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession of her? Answer: If she is a virgin, her master can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession. But if she is not, you must make sure she is not pregnant.

Question: Is it allowed to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty? Answer: You may have intercourse with a female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse. However, if she is not fit for intercourse, it is enough to enjoy her without.

Chilling drive: This is the view towards the Dera Bwn refugee camp in Duhok, northern Iraq 

Chilling drive: This is the view towards the Dera Bwn refugee camp in Duhok, northern Iraq 

IS has even recorded the practice in its official publication, Daqib. It states:

‘After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to Sharia [Islamic law] amongst the fighters of Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations…

‘Before Satan sows doubt among the weak-minded and weak-hearted, remember that enslaving the kuffa [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly-established aspect of Sharia.’

A spokesman for Amnesty has said: ‘Despite worldwide condemnation, the IS has shown no intention of putting an end to the war crimes and crimes against humanity which its fighters have been committing on a large scale, including against the Iraqi women and girls they have abducted and continue to hold captive.

‘Any party, in Iraq or outside, with any influence over the IS should use that influence to secure the release of these captives.

‘A small proportion of those abducted have managed to escape IS captivity, many after having been subjected to acts of unspeakable brutality.

‘But the survivors interviewed by Amnesty International are not receiving the help and support they desperately need.’

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate August 11, 2014

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate August 11, 2014

Forced conversions: Islamic State releases a video purportedly of Iraq's minority Yazidis taking part in a conversion ritual at an unknown location

Forced conversions: Islamic State releases a video purportedly of Iraq’s minority Yazidis taking part in a conversion ritual at an unknown location

 

 

 

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Syria: Children “Tortured as Family Listened”

Syrians check the identities of the bodies of victims from an airstrike on the Maadi neighbourhood of the northern Syrian cit...

Syrians check the identities of the bodies of victims from an airstrike on the Maadi neighbourhood of the northern Syrian cit…

SYRIAN children as young as eight have been flogged and tortured by fighters affiliated to al-Qa’ida while their relatives, held in neighboring cells, listened, according to testimonies presented by Amnesty International.

The human rights group also claims in a report published yesterday that judges and jailors in sharia courts in northern Syria wore explosive belts so that they would be ready to blow themselves up with their captives, should they be attacked. The testimonies told, among other things, of adults being given electric shocks.

Amnesty attributes the abuses to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which is affiliated to al-Qa’ida and now controls significant parts of northern Syria in its battle against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Once ISIS seized control of an area, they imposed strict sharia rules and – according to the testimonies – inflicted horrific acts of violence on locals.

The report calls on Turkey to refuse shelter to ISIS fighters and stop the flow of arms over their mutual border. It also urges the Gulf states to stop funding the group. One former prisoner interviewed by Amnesty after his release “spoke of being present in a cell with a father as (he) heard his 13-year-old son apparently being tortured but was powerless to act”.

Another witness described how a teenager, believed to be 13 years old, was flogged 40 times a day after being accused of stealing a motorcycle. Yet another witness recalls hearing the beating of another boy: “I counted 94 lashes falling on this child and then I could count no more.”

Children were not held separately from adults, and so witnessed some of the routine abuse. Typically, prisoners were forced to adopt the “scorpion” position – crouching with one hand stretched over the shoulder and handcuffed to the second hand. “In one case, a former detainee told Amnesty International he was tortured with electric shocks and beaten with a cable while suspended with only one foot touching the floor,” said the report. Others were ordered to drink diesel or up to six litres of cooking oil.

The abuses are alleged to have happened between May and November this year, and the testimonies of the 10 former detainees paint a stark picture of a group determined to cow the local population into submission. After their floggings, the detainees were released, and fled to Turkey. Most judges wore masks, as did the group’s soldiers, who sometimes snatched their victims in daylight in the suburbs of Aleppo. Some trials, including at least one for adultery, ended in a swift execution.

Part of the torture was psychological. Prisoners were told they would be killed and thrown into the Euphrates River.

“I’ll make you food for the fishes,” was a frequent threat against inmates, the report claims.

 

Malaysia: The Obedient Wives Club

A Club in Malaysia Tells Its Members to Be Whores — That Way, Their Husbands Don’t Have to Use One

The club has come under scrutiny for both its published works and vocal advocates, some of whom suggest that the only way a woman can keep her husband loyal is by acting like a “whore in bed.”

Lina Eroh

Over afternoon tea a few months ago, my husband and I learned about an organization called the “Obedient Wives Club.” It was founded in Malaysia in 2011 and the Penang branch counts several female doctors and other educated women amongst its members.

The goal of the club is as off-putting as its name: to teach wives how to submit to their husbands, in life and in bed.

The club has come under scrutiny for both its published works and vocal advocates, some of whom suggest that the only way a woman can keep her husband loyal is by acting like a “whore in bed.” According to one woman who has friends in the club, lessons also focus on treating your husband like the “emperor” he is and introducing new sexual positions into the bedroom.

Which brings me to the situation of women in Malaysia, and perhaps to a larger extent, how women are viewed and hence view themselves within the lens of Islam. Malaysia, a predominantly Islamic country whose Muslim population is governed by Sharia law, is in many ways a patriarchal society where women are subordinate objects to men. In no other place have I seen so many women covered from head to feet in the traditional tudong (at least their faces are exposed), while their husbands walk next to them in shorts and graphic t-shirts. And in no other place in Southeast Asia have I had women look at me in disgust as I pass by them wearing my own shorts and graphic t-shirts. I’ve even seen girls as young as five wear head coverings and full length outfits despite it being 90+ degrees outside and there being no law in place requiring such dress.

Malay women aren’t even supposed to leave their homes in the evening without being accompanied by their husbands — not for safety, but for modesty. So if you were a typical Malay man, which meeting would you rather drive your wife to?

The one in which she talks about improving the government/education system/environment or the one in which she talks about improving… your sex life?

In every country I’ve been so far, I’ve tried to learn about and understand the local way of life. I’ve spoken to people about why they choose to bathe in the river when they have hot showers in their unoccupied guesthouses, why they don’t send their children to school, andwhy they become prostitutes. I may not have agreed with the reasoning for their actions, but I tried to understand.

Malaysia has presented a unique problem. I simply can’t understand why Malay women put up with a society that objectifies them to an extent that I can’t imagine in my own life. I don’t know why they let their husbands keep them at home and tell them what to wear, even as they drive around town in BMWs wearing shorts and t-shirts. And I wonder how they can consider themselves lucky to be married to men who through their behavior act no better than pigs… or pimps.

The answer, of course, is religion, or rather a strict and perhaps too convenient interpretation of Islamic texts. Malaysia makes it illegal for Malays to not be Muslim, but in the past it has tried to embrace secularity and modernity when it comes to its global policies. Recently, however, many politicians, journalists, and scholars have grown increasingly nervous that Malaysia is veering away from secularity to become a strict Islamic state. There are noticeable hints on the ground that this change is indeed occurring. More women wear headscarves (or hijabs) than ever before, even though it’s not required by law. Sharia law is in full effect, with signs in 7 Eleven reminding Muslims that it’s illegal for them to drink alcohol and signs in fancy spas reminding Muslim men (but not women, seemingly since they’d never go to a Western spa alone) that it is forbidden for them to get massages by female masseurs. We’ve even learned of some public schools that don’t have food service available for non-Muslim students during Ramadan, essentially forcing them to follow a tradition that’s not their own. (After the student council at this school complained, the dean agreed to open one food cart with limited lunch hours for non-Muslim students. A student that bought food at the food cart was subsequently scolded by her Muslim teacher.) And a Muslim woman who happens to be a dog trainer was recently investigated and jailed for her “unholy” actions, which consisted of walking three dogs past a mosque and then washing their feet. (There is some confusion as to whether or not Muslims are allowed to touch dogs. Most Malaysian Muslims seem to believe it’s illegal, while Muslims from other countries say there are no laws against it.)

And it is in this societal context that women find themselves. By law, a Malay man is allowed to have four wives and countless numbers of divorces. Most men can’t afford to have more than one wife at a time, since having multiple families (technically) means you support multiple women and children. But there’s always that risk for the woman, the risk that her husband will ask her permission to take on another wife, or worse, just text her:

Talaq.

One time means we’re having problems.

Two times means things are getting worse.

Talaq talaq talaq.

Three times.

That means it’s over. For good. On legal grounds. And the woman who was never allowed to work outside the home is left alone, with however many kids all that crazy sex got her. There’s no way to demand child support, alimony, or anything else our Western minds want to demand from a man who just “feels” like leaving his wife.

So what’s a Malay woman to do? Certainly not refuse to wear loose clothing and a headscarf, at least not if she wants to be married. After all, most of the women here are still raised to think that marriage and children are the ultimate goal.

The suggestion of the Obedient Wives Club is to never let it get that far, to never let your husband even think about sending that text or consider glancing at that other woman. Because he wouldn’t ever leave you for a whore if you act like one in bed. Right?

Note: the members of the Obedient Wives Club are a small fraction of the Malay female population as a whole. However, the teachings of this club permeate throughout society and extend far beyond its headquarters, effecting both men and women. For example, when walking alone on a busy street in Malaysia in the middle of the afternoon, I received two marriage proposals within twenty minutes, both from Muslim men who I’m fairly certain had no time to consult their current wives.

This story originally appeared on Medium.com.

 

Bacha Bazi: An Afghan Tragedy

the practice of bacha bazi — sexual companionship between powerful men and their adolescent boy conscripts

By Chris Mondloch

With the looming withdrawal of NATO troops and a persistent insurgent threat, Afghanistan is in a precarious position. Innumerable tragedies have beleaguered rural Afghans throughout the past decades of conflict — perpetual violence, oppression of women, and crushing poverty have all contributed to the Hobbesian nature of life in the Afghan countryside.

While the Afghan government has been able to address some of these issues since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, archaic social traditions and deep-seated gender norms have kept much of rural Afghanistan in a medieval state of purgatory. Perhaps the most deplorable tragedy, one that has actually grown more rampant since 2001, is the practice of bacha bazi — sexual companionship between powerful men and their adolescent boy conscripts.

This phenomenon presents a system of gender reversal in Afghanistan.  Whereas rural Pashtun culture remains largely misogynistic and male-dominated due to deeply-ingrained Islamic values, teenage boys have become the objects of lustful attraction and romance for some of the most powerful men in the Afghan countryside.

Demeaning and damaging, the widespread subculture of pedophilia in Afghanistan constitutes one of the most egregious ongoing violations of human rights in the world. The adolescent boys who are groomed for sexual relationships with older men are bought — or, in some instances, kidnapped — from their families and thrust into a world which strips them of their masculine identity. These boys are often made to dress as females, wear makeup, and dance for parties of men. They are expected to engage in sexual acts with much older suitors, often remaining a man’s or group’s sexual underling for a protracted period.

Evolution of Bacha Bazi

Occurring frequently across southern and eastern Afghanistan’s rural Pashtun belt and with ethnic Tajiks in the northern Afghan countryside, bacha bazi has become a shockingly common practice. Afghanistan’s mujahideen warlords, who fought off the Soviet invasion and instigated a civil war in the 1980s, regularly engaged in acts of pedophilia. Keeping one or more “chai boys,” as these male conscripts are called, for personal servitude and sexual pleasure became a symbol of power and social status.

The Taliban had a deep aversion towards bacha bazi, outlawing the practice when they instituted strict nationwide sharia law. According to some accounts, including the hallmark Times of London article “Kandahar Comes out of the Closet” in 2002, one of the original provocations for the Taliban’s rise to power in the early 1990s was their outrage over pedophilia.  Once they came to power, bacha bazi became taboo, and the men who still engaged in the practice did so in secret.

When the former mujahideen commanders ascended to power in 2001 after the Taliban’s ouster, they brought with them a rekindled culture of bacha bazi. Today, many of these empowered warlords serve in important positions, as governors, line ministers, police chiefs, and military commanders.

Since its post-2001 revival, bacha bazi has evolved, and its practice varies across Afghanistan. According to military experts I talked to in Afghanistan, the lawlessness that followed the deposing of the Taliban’s in rural Pashtunistan and northern Afghanistan gave rise to violent expressions of pedophilia. Boys were raped, kidnapped, and trafficked as sexual predators regained their positions of regional power. As rule of law mechanisms and general order returned to the Afghan countryside, bacha bazi became a normalized, structured practice in many areas.

Many “chai boys” are now semi-formal apprentices to their powerful male companions.  Military officials have observed that Afghan families with an abundance of children are often keen to provide a son to a warlord or government official – with full knowledge of the sexual ramifications – in order to gain familial prestige and monetary compensation.  Whereas bacha bazi is now largely consensual and non-violent, its evolution into an institutionalized practice within rural Pashtun and Tajik society is deeply disturbing.

Pedophilia and Islam

The fact that bacha bazi, which has normalized sodomy and child abuse in rural Afghan society, developed within a deeply fundamentalist Islamic region of the world is mystifying. According to a 2009 Human Terrain Team study titled “Pashtun Sexuality,” Pashtun social norms dictate that bacha bazi is not un-Islamic or homosexual at all — if the man does not love the boy, the sexual act is not reprehensible, and is far more ethical than defiling a woman.

Sheltered by their pastoral setting and unable to speak Arabic — the language of all Islamic texts — many Afghans allow social customs to trump religious values, including those Quranic verses eschewing homosexuality and promiscuity. Warlords who have exploited Islam for political or personal means have also promulgated tolerance for bacha bazi. The mujahideen commanders are a perfect example of this — they fought communism in the name of jihad and mobilized thousands of men by promoting Islam, while sexually abusing boys and remaining relatively secular themselves.

Tragic Consequences

The rampant pedophilia has a number of far-reaching detrimental consequences on Afghanistan’s development into a functional nation. The first — and most obvious — consequence of bacha bazi is the irreparable abuse inflicted on its thousands of victims.

Because it is so common, a significant percentage of the country’s male population bears the deep psychological scars of sexual abuse from childhood.  Some estimates say that as many as 50 percent of the men in the Pashtun tribal areas of southern Afghanistan take boy lovers, making it clear that pedophilia is a pervasive issue affecting entire rural communities. Many of the prominent Pashtun men who currently engage in bacha bazi were likely abused as children; in turn, many of today’s adolescent victims will likely become powerful warlords or government-affiliated leaders with boy lovers of their own, perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

A second corrupting, and perhaps surprising, consequence of bacha bazi is its negative impact on women’s rights in Afghanistan. It has become a commonly accepted notion among Afghanistan’s latent homosexual male population that “women are for children, and boys are for pleasure.” Passed down through many generations and spurred by the vicious cycle created by the pedophile-victim relationship, many Afghan men have lost their attraction towards the opposite gender. Although social and religious customs still heavily dictate that all men must marry one or more women and have children, these marriages are often devoid of love and affection, and are treated as practical, mandated arrangements.

While the Afghan environment has grown more conducive to improving women’s social statuses, the continued normalization of bacha bazi will perpetuate the traditional view of women as second-class citizens — household fixtures meant for child-rearing and menial labor, and undeserving of male attraction and affection.

The third unfortunate consequence of bacha bazi is its detrimental bearing on the perpetual state of conflict in Afghanistan, especially in the southern Pashtun-dominated countryside. Because pedophilia and sodomy were, and remain, a main point of contention between the Islamist Taliban and traditional Pashtun warlords, the widespread nature of bacha bazi likely continues to fuel the Taliban’s desire to reassert sharia law. The adolescent victims are vulnerable to Taliban intimidation and may be used to infiltrate the Afghan government and security forces.

The resurgence of bacha bazi since the Taliban’s defeat and the significant percentage of government, police, and military officials engaged in the practice has put the United States and its NATO allies in a precarious position. By empowering these sexual predators, the coalition built a government around a “lesser evil,” promoting often-corrupt pedophiles in lieu of the extremist, al Qaeda-linked Taliban. Going forward, the strong Western moral aversion to pedophilia will likely erode the willingness of NATO and international philanthropic agencies to continue their support for Afghanistan’s development in the post-transition period. As Joel Brinkley, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicleasked: “So, why are American and NATO forces fighting and dying to defend tens of thousands of proud pedophiles, certainly more per capita than any other place on Earth?”

Looking Forward

Despite the grave nature of the child abuse committed across Afghanistan, this tragic phenomenon has received relatively little global attention. It has been highlighted mainly in sporadic news articles and one Afghan-produced documentary, while other Afghan issues such as women’s rights and poverty are center stage.

From a human rights perspective, the pervasive culture of pedophilia deserves substantial international consideration due to its detrimental effects — the immediate and noticeable effects on the young victims, as well as the roadblocks it creates towards achieving gender equality and peace.

The only way to tackle both bacha bazi and gender inequality is to modernize Afghanistan’s rule of law system. Afghan officials have been scrutinized in multiple reports by the United Nations’ Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict for their failure to protect children’s rights. Although Afghan officials formally agreed to outlaw these practices in response to U.N. criticism in 2011, the government’s ability and willingness to internally enforce laws protecting children has been non-existent.

If a future Afghan government can achieve a balance between the Taliban, who strictly enforced anti-pedophilia laws but harshly oppressed women, and the current administration, which has put an end to the hard-line Islamic subjugation of women but has allowed bacha bazi to reach shocking levels, Afghanistan’s dismal human rights record may improve.

An additional strategy for combating bacha bazi is to attack the issue from an ethno-cultural standpoint. Identifying key tribal elders and other local powerbrokers who share the West’s revulsion towards such widespread pedophilia is the first step in achieving lasting progress.  As is true with women’s rights, understanding Afghanistan’s complex social terrain and bridging its cultural differences is necessary to safeguard the rights of adolescent boys.

The Afghan government’s acknowledgement of bacha bazi and subsequent outreach into rural Pashtun communities, where the legitimacy of the government is often eclipsed by the power of warlords and tribal elders, will also be critical. The most important breakthrough, of course, will come when the Afghan government, police, and military rid themselves of all pedophiles. If the central government can ensure its representatives at the local level will cease their engagement inbacha bazi, the social norms are bound to change as well.

Eliminating this truly damaging practice will finally occur when a pedophile-free Afghan government is able to more closely connect the country’s urban centers to its rural countryside. Only then will a progressive social code be established. And if this evolved social code can incorporate the tenets of Islam with social justice and effectively marginalize the archaic and abusive aspects of Pashtun and Tajik warlord culture, there is hope for Afghanistan yet.

Chris Mondloch served as an analyst for the U.S. Marine Corps for five years and directed intelligence production for the Corps’ Economic Political Intelligence Cell in Helmand province in 2012. 

Britain’s Underage Muslim Marriage Epidemic

The imam of Birmingham’s Central Jamia Masjid Ghamkol Sharif Mosque (pictured above) agreed to perform the marriage of a 14-year-old girl against her will.

by Soeren Kern

More than a dozen Muslim clerics at some of the biggest mosques in Britain have been caught on camera agreeing to marry off girls as young as 14.

Undercover reporters filming a documentary about the prevalence of forced and underage marriage in Britain for the television program ITV Exposure secretly recorded 18 Muslim imams agreeing to perform an Islamic marriage, known as a nikah, between a 14-year-old girl and an older man.

Campaigners against forced marriage — which is not yet a crime in Britain — say thousands of underage girls — including some under the age of five — are being forced to marry against their will in Muslim nikahs every year, and that the examples exposed by the documentary represent just “the tip of the iceberg.”

The documentary, entitled “Forced to Marry,” was first broadcast on October 9 and involves two reporters posing as the mother and brother of a 14-year-old girl to be married to an older man. The reporters contacted 56 mosques across Britain and asked clerics to perform a nikah. The imams were specifically told that the “bride” did not consent to the marriage to an older man from London.

Although the legal age for marriage in Britain is 16, according to Islamic Sharia law girls can marry once they reach puberty. The imams who agreed to marry the girl openly mocked the legitimacy of British law, reflecting the rise of a parallel Islamic legal system in Britain.

One of the Muslim clerics who agreed to perform the underage marriage is Mohammed Shahid Akhtar, the imam of the Central Jamia Masjid Ghamkol Sharif Mosque in Birmingham, the second-largest mosque in Britain with a capacity of more than 5,000 worshippers.

On being informed that the girl did not want to get married, Akhtar replied: “She’s 14. By Sharia, grace of God, she’s legal to get married. Obviously Islam has made it easy for us. There is nothing against that. We’re doing it because it’s okay through Islam.”

The documentary also shows Akhtar expressing his contempt for British marriage laws: “You’ve got the kaffirs[non-believers], the law, the English people that … you know, you can’t get married twice but, by the grace of God, we can get married four times.”

An undercover UK investigation revealed that Imams at some of Britain's biggest mosques were willing to marry off girls as young as 14. (Shutterstock)

An undercover UK investigation revealed that Imams at some of Britain’s biggest mosques were willing to marry off girls as young as 14. (Shutterstock)

Another cleric who agreed to marry the 14 year old girl is Mufti Shams al-Huda al-Misbahi, who preaches at the Jamia Masjid Kanzul Iman Mosque in Heckmondwike, a town near Leeds in north-central England.

When the undercover reporter, posing as the brother of the girl to be married, says, “She’s not willing now, but she will be,” Misbahi responds: “If you make her willing, she will be willing.” He is then filmed saying that he would perform the marriage without providing an official marriage certificate valid under British law. “We’ll make everything okay by Islam. We’ll write down and put it in our records.” Misbahi goes on to tell the undercover reporters that the girl will be able to live with her new husband after the ceremony.

Misbahi is a senior Muslim cleric who has worked with the West Yorkshire Police as an advisor on community cohesion, a British concept that refers to the integration of Muslim immigrants within a multicultural society. Before being caught on camera advocating forced marriage, Misbahi had publicly condemned the practice for many years.

Another imam at the Al Quba Mosque and Shahporan Islamic Center in Manchester was filmed saying: “I can get you someone to do the nikah for you, that’s not going to be a problem.”

The documentary includes an interview with Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Northwest England. “Forced marriage is probably the last form of slavery in the UK,” he says.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Aneeta Prem, founder of the Freedom Charity which educates children about forced marriage, said: “I think whoever is involved in this, you are talking about child abuse and exploitation and it is something we need to stop. People are too culturally sensitive when dealing with this, they are worried about offending particular groups. We have to say it’s immoral and illegal and stamp it out. I think what we are hearing about is the tip of the iceberg, it is a huge problem.”

At least 250 children are known to have been subjected to forced marriage in Britain in 2012, including a two-year-old girl who is believed to be the country’s youngest victim of the practice.

The statistics were provided by the British government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) as part of an ongoing effort to create a law that would criminalize forced marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The custom is already illegal in Scotland.

Overall, the FMU said it gave advice or support related to nearly 1,500 cases of forced marriage during 2012, although experts say the vast majority of forced marriages in Britain go unreported. A study produced by NatCen Social Research, a British think tank, estimates that the real number of forced marriages in Britain probably exceeds 8,000 per year.

Most of the instances of forced marriage in Britain involve Muslim families from South Asia, particularly Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Many of the cases involve Muslim children who are taken abroad by their parents and forced to marry against their will. During the 2013 summer holidays, for example, an average of five girls were believed to have been taken out of Britain every day to be forcibly married abroad. Forced marriages also often involve horrors such as kidnapping, beatings and rape.

Prime Minister David Cameron has compared the practice of forced marriage to modern day slavery and has said people should not “shy away” from addressing the issue because of political correctness. “For too long in this country we have thought, ‘Well, it’s a cultural practice and we just have to run with it,'” Cameron said. “We don’t. It’s a crime.”

In May 2013, Cameron submitted a bill to Parliament that would make forcing someone to marry a specific criminal offense. The measure is part of the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Bill slowly working its way through the House of Commons, the lower house of the British Parliament.

To be sure, not everyone in Britain is in favor of making forced marriage a crime. According to a research document published by the House of Commons Library on September 16, 2013, some campaigners on the issue are worried that victims could be deterred from coming forward because they will not want to risk relatives going to prison. Others argue it may lead to youngsters being taken overseas at an earlier age to be put through forced marriages. Still others question how allegations of forced marriage would be proven to the criminal standard of proof: beyond reasonable doubt.

Another reason why Britain is taking so long to outlaw forced marriage involves multicultural sensitivities. Many promoters of British multiculturalism say the move to criminalize forced marriage will unfairly single out Muslims.

journal article entitled “A Civil Rather than Criminal Offence? Forced Marriage, Harm and the Politics of Multiculturalism in the UK” argues that the reluctance in Britain to criminalize forced marriage is due, in part, to the influence that multicultural ideals have had on current British approaches to the practice.

The article also attributes the British preference for civil remedies rather than criminal legislation to the tendency of the state to conceptualize the harms of forced marriage principally in terms of a violation of choice, rather than as a matter of long-term violence against women.

The question arises as to whether, by adopting such an approach, the state may be giving rise to a two-tier system of rights, in which minority group women are afforded a lesser protection of their human rights, as a result of their racial or cultural background.

Back in 1999, former Labour Party Home Office Minister Mike O’Brien criticized the lack of action on the problem forced marriages. “Multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness,” he said.

Fast-forward to 2013. In an interview with the Sunday Times on October 6, Jasvinder Sanghera, an activist who has been instrumental in the decades-long campaign to criminalize forced marriage in Britain, sums it up this way: The issue has become “wrapped up in this moral blindness of cultural sensitivity.”

 

 

Sudanese Woman Flogged in Public for Getting into Car with Man

  • Upsetting video shows the Sudanese woman cower and call out in pain
  • A police officer meted out the punishment under strict ‘public order’ law
  • The video was sent anonymously to a journalist
A Sudanese woman was filmed being whipped by a police officer for riding in a car with a man she wasn't related to

A Sudanese woman was filmed being whipped by a police officer for riding in a car with a man she wasn’t related to

By SAM WEBB

This horrific video shows a police officer flogging a cowering woman in the street as a crowd watches without protesting or intervening.

The crime that prompted this horrendous assault? She had ridden in a car with a man who she wasn’t related to, an offense that is prohibited by Sudan’s public order law.

The video is believed to have been taken in Khartoum, the capital, and shows the terrified and bewildered woman crying out in pain as lash after vicious lash rains down.

The woman, reportedly named Halima, cowers on the ground and tries to cover her head with a pink veil while a police officer stalks back and forth, before lining up a vicious swipe.

In the video, the police officer warns the woman: ‘This is so you don’t get into cars anymore.’

Meanwhile a crowd of onlookers mutely stands and watches the disturbing spectacle. The video was anonymously sent to a journalist, who uploaded it last month.

The accents of the people in the video point to it being filmed around Khartoum.

Mute witness: The crowd watches silently as the blows rain down on the terrified woman

Mute witness: The crowd watches silently as the blows rain down on the terrified woman

Khartoum’s governor, Abdul Rahman Al Khidir, reportedly said that he didn’t think the flogging was properly carried out, but still thought the woman was ‘rightfully punished according to the Shar’ia law,’ according to the New York Daily News.

Shar’ia law, a system of Islamic religious laws, is widely interpreted by Muslim communities around the world.

According to Think Africa Press, the women of Sudan have been suffering under article 152 of the penal code, an ‘inhumane, vicious and notorious’ law first implemented in 1991.

The woman attempted to cover her face with her pink veil during the attack

The woman attempted to cover her face with her pink veil during the attack

Menacing: The guard paces back and forth between blows

Menacing: The guard paces back and forth between blows

In the video, the police officer warns the woman: 'This is so you don't get into cars anymore.'

In the video, the police officer warns the woman: ‘This is so you don’t get into cars anymore.’

Article 152 of Sudan’s criminal code stipulates that any conduct or clothing in violation of public decency be punished with 40 lashes.

The law, which mainly targets women, is vague as to what constitutes indecent clothing, leaving room for the Public Order Police to arrest whoever they deem to be dressed inappropriately or committing an act of indecency.

The nation’s harsh laws came under scrutiny last month when a Sudanese woman said she was prepared to be flogged to defend the right to leave her hair uncovered in defiance of the ‘Taliban-like’ law.

Amira Osman Hamed faces a possible whipping if convicted. Under Sudanese law her hair – and that of all women – is supposed to be covered with a ‘hijab’ but Hamed, 35, refuses to wear one.

Her case has drawn support from civil rights activists.