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Women sold as sex slaves in Islamic State markets, says UN official

UN's Valerie Amos says the number of women in Syria facing sexual slavery and forced marriage is on the rise.

December 16, 2014 12:36
1 minute read.
Yazidi refugees near the Syrian border

Yazidi refugees flee for their lives from Islamic State forces near the Syrian border, August 11.. (photo credit: RODI SAID / REUTERS)

The situation for Syrian women has worsened since July at the hands of Islamic State, said Valerie Amos, the UN's under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief.

She described how women and female children as young as 12 are enslaved and sexually abused. "Women captured as slaves by [Islamic State] have been sold in markets in Raqqa. Some are sold to individual men. Others are kept by [Islamic State] in rest houses and face multiple rapes by fighters returning from the battlefield," Amos reported during a UN Security Council session on Monday.

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"Kurdish refugees from Kobani reported the capture of young girls by [Islamic State] for sexual purposes, girls as young as 12."

Amos said there has also been a rise in the incidence of forced marriage. "This is in part due to a depletion of family resources and more recently because parents are terrified of their daughters being forced to marry [Islamic State] fighters in areas under their control."

She called these and other horrible acts war crimes. "[Islamic State] has carried out mass victimization of civilians including murder, enslavement, rape, forcible displacement and torture, and has violated its obligation toward civilians."

Amos spoke harshly about the lack of progress since the Security Council passed Resolution 2139 in February, which laid out a number of basic human rights demands that the Syrian government and opposition fighters must follow.

Amos criticized the international community for becoming numb in the face of almost 200,000 deaths in Syria, with millions more injured and displaced. She said that Syrian refugees now account for a fifth of the world's number of displaced people.

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