Women and the Islamic State

As a woman living in the 21st Century, I have enjoyed the freedom to study, to work, and to express my thoughts without fear of punishment, and so I am completely dumbfounded as to why three teenage girls would voluntarily fly to Syria to join the Islamic State. What could they possibly be thinking?

According to the group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently, women as young as 9 can be married off to Islamic fighters. Young girls are sold from one fighter to another and repeatedly raped. There are also reports that women are subjected to brutal sexual assaults, are not allowed to attend University or to work, their movements are restricted, they are unlikely to ever be allowed to leave Syria, and they must completely cover themselves in black robes. This is not freedom or tolerance; it is paedophilia, oppression, and slavery.

According to the Guardian, ISIS militants trade women like slaves:

They sold Amsha for $12. Other girls and women went for more, much more. But Amsha had a small son and was pregnant with her second child. She had already seen Islamic State (Isis) militants execute her husband in front of her. Now the terror of that crime and the fear of captivity was to be replaced by the indignity and humiliation of being traded like cattle.

Islamic extremists condone and encourage violence against those with different religious views. They beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians late last year for no other reason than the fact they were Christian. If Islamic extremists want the right to live according their religious values then they must allow others to do the same. Religious values that condone exterminating everyone else whose religious values differ are incompatible with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Freedom to have a religion does not imply freedom to exterminate everyone else who has a different religion. Article 29 of the declaration states:

In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

Thomas Paine once said, “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

The human race has come so far in terms of tolerance of others and women’s rights which makes the rise of ISIS and the presence of women in my society who support this type of violence and oppression all the more disturbing. It was more than 200 years ago when Mary Wollstonecraft said, “Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.

She would be appalled to see women and girls in our society, who are the beneficiaries of her ideas, willingly give up their freedom and instead choose violence, oppression, slavery, and “blind obedience”.