A Society Straight from the Past

“To the outside world, the territory controlled by the Islamic State might seem to be a hermetically sealed land governed by the harshest laws of the seventh century.”

I remember a little less than a year ago that I stumbled across a New York Times article that interviewed a few women who were living under the rule of ISIS before they escaped. Wait, does a year old article still count as recent events? Between you and me, we can just let that slide right? I mean ISIS is still around right? Close enough then! As you can probably tell, this week is going to being another heavy topic. We’ll be looking at the treatment of women under ISIS and how it compares to what we’ve learned during our time at Humanities so far. You can probably guess that women are treated pretty poorly under ISIS, but wow does it get a loss worse the deeper you look into it. It ranges from suppression (“You can’t wear this. You can’t show skin, etc.”) to something as sickening as systematic rape and slavery for certain groups of women.

In the New York Times article I read, they interviewed three different women who were living in Raqqa, Syria, which is now known as the capital of ISIS. These women all reminisce about a time before ISIS and the Syrian Civil war, where they enjoyed pleasures that are normally taken for granted, from going out into the city as they pleased, wearing swimsuits, and partying. They wore make up, socialized with whoever they wanted freely, and enrolled into university. But everything changed when ISIS attacked. To quote the article, “At the start of 2014, everything changed. The Islamic State wrested full control of Raqqa and made the city its command center, violently consolidating its authority. Those who resisted, or whose family or friends had the wrong connections, were detained, tortured or killed.”

remnick-truth-about-isis-raqqa-1200It is actually really hard to find good photography of ISIS, but this a shot of them in the street of Raqqa. 

All three of these women were married off to different ISIS soldiers to appease the men. Often the families would agree because this meant they would get dowry from the men or so they could curry favor with ISIS. Does this sound a little familiar? Kind of like when Romans would arrange marriages of their daughters for political gain. What was interesting though was that these women actually came to love their husbands. They gave them new homes and better lives that helped them tolerate life under ISIS. On a side note, the emotional attachment these women had really humanized these soldiers that we often blindly hate. But just when life seemed tolerable, their husbands died on suicide missions. They grieved and cried, but ISIS still came knocking, telling them that they had to find new suitors to marry. That puts it back into perspective, that these women are still in the end are still just pawns to keep the morale and happiness of their men up.

Moving onto the sex and slave trade that ISIS operates is leagues worse than the way they treated the women in Raqqa. This is covered in another NYT article. According to ISIS, the Quran condones and encourages the raping of nonbelievers of Islam. Which is exactly what they’ve been doing.

For one twelve year old girl, she was raped by an ISIS soldier because she didn’t practice Islam. The man prayed before and after raping her, and called it religious devotion. This kind of grotesque thing happens all the time, because ISIS tells all their soldiers, “Yeah, have at it, the Quran says you can.” But theres a certain group that’s been specifically targeted for these acts. The Yazidis. They’re a religious minority group who live near Mount Sinjar in Iraq. Because their ancient sect of Islam follows a fallen angel that takes care of the world. ISIS considers this angel as a devil and solely because of this, they invaded the Yazidi people’s home, killed all the men and older boys, and shipped off all the women to be sex slaves. These women become little more than just property to be owned, traded, or willed off. They get reduced to just items waiting to be auctioned off, with names like “Sabaya No. 1″ and Sabaya No. 2” (Sabaya means slave).

20150813-isisslave-slide-mudg-master675      Thats a “Certificate of Emancipation”, aka you’re free from being a sex slave now. This is some seriously messed up stuff. 

Doesn’t that also sound familiar? In Roman society, women never really got their own names, instead that of their fathers. There was a lack of identity that came from that, but being degraded to just an object to be sold and used is beyond comprehension. And this is all happening today.

ISIS is a society brought straight out of the ancient history, but with a bit of a modern twist to it.




ISIS Women and Enforcers in Syria Recount Collaboration, Anguish and Escape 

ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape




One thought on “A Society Straight from the Past

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post and learning more about how women have been impacted by ISIS. It is horrible what these women have gone through, and there are a lot of links to the past Roman times that I hadn’t thought about before. I also appreciated the research that went into this blog post; there was a lot of factual information that succeeded in telling more about women with ISIS, and also further linking it to the ancient Roman times.


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