BY: Ally O’Conner
As a disclaimer, ISIS is not in any way a representation of Islam as a religion, it is a minority terrorist group that should not be associated with the 1.2 billion people practicing Islam peacefully. Such associations lead to toxic Islamophobia and violence against innocent people.
If you watch the news or on any form of social media, you have probably heard about ISIS. ISIS is a Sunni militant group seeking to create its own state, and to destroy all other branches of Islam and convert and destroy all non-muslims. With ISIS being in the news a lot lately, there has also been a lot of talk about how the wives of ISIS are appealing to Western Women. There have been many stories of young, western girls willingly running off to marry a militant and join the movement. There is a tumblr account called “Diary of a Muhajirah” where a woman from Northern Britain is chronicling her life living in Syria after she pledged her life to ISIS. The British government has estimated that around 80 women have left to join and marry ISIS. Dr. Erin Saltman of the Quilliam Foundation says about these young women, “These are unlikely to be young women who’ve traveled by themselves before. For them, this has a similar kind of appeal to taking a big gap-year trip.” One of the appeals that is often a draw for people to join ISIS is the feeling of connection among the women there. There is a large sense of community there because they are not only fighting for the same cause, but they are living in a warzone and in that type of situation is is very common to bond with those around you. A lot of the women who have joined have talked about the isolation they felt growing up in Islam, but how that has been restored with a sense of bonding and connection with their peers once they have joined ISIS. The many social media accounts that document their time in the militant group is also used as a sort of recruiting mechanism.
And while those may seem like positive things, and are probably what is tricking a lot of girls to running off to join the group, newly translated Manifesto explains the expectations of women in ISIS, and they are not as positive:
-Girls should be married by the age of 9
-Girls should only be educated until the age of 15
-Curriculum should be only based on Islamic religious studies
-Girls should learn cooking, knitting, and cleaning skills that will prepare them to head their households
-Girls should not need to get degrees to prove their intelligence is greater than a man’s
-Specially appointed girls can leave the house to become a teacher or nurse
-Girls must be pure when they are married
-Girls must not get plastic surgery or piercings
-Girls must only shave hair in places advised
There have also been many reports of sexual abuse among ISIS militants and their wives with women needing to be brought for emergency help at times after a sexual encounter. It is important that we recognize that ISIS is not liberating girls but rather manipulating them into joining a movement of violence and oppression.