The Women Fighting ISIS On The Front Lines Defend Their Family, Land & Freedom

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As the battle against ISIS continues, we are increasingly learning more and more horrific details on the way they are treating various groups of people. There are many news stories we could focus on in this fight against this determined and pervasive terrorist group, yet we want to specifically talk about the Islamic State’s war on women.

We have shared news in the past of the Kurdish women fighting against ISIS who have the type of effect that male soldiers do not. The terrorists have been running in fear of the armed women because they fear if they are killed by them, they will not go to heaven. It sounds like a win-win for the women, but it is not.

These brave women are also choosing to put their lives on hold to go to the very front lines of a treacherous battle against a terrorist organization who hold women in little to no regard.

It is quite a juxtaposition to see ISIS feeling in fear from female soldiers, because the way they treat civilian women is absolutely sickening and horrific.

The New York Times recently published a harrowing account of sexual violence and rape by the terrorists, called ‘ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape’. It is a tough piece of journalism to swallow, but important to read nonetheless.

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In a nutshell they believe raping women is a religious right, and practice the systematic rape of young women and girls by buying and selling them like cattle.

“To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden,” writes Rukmini Callimachi.

“A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.”

For them, rape is just normal, part of the “job”, and it doesn’t just stop with women in Iraq and neighboring countries. Reports of an American female hostage who was raped by an Islamic State leader shocked many of us in the US who for the most part, are able to live very removed from the daily atrocities of these terrorists.

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The New York Times expose on essentially what is a “rape manual” detailing the explicit allowance of the rape of minors shows that this group is not just trying to dominate with bombs and weapons, they want to defeat the very fabric of certain communities and families (coming from a warped religious directive, of course) by attacking each member where it hurts them the most.

For women in most conservative Arab families, to be raped means to be damaged goods and ISIS do this as a means to exert their dominance and ownership of women as less than equals. They are simply property. What ISIS are doing to women in the Middle East is a scary view of what any country would look like if any religious bigots and extremists were allowed to rule, giving themselves permission to distort any form of text, law or system for their own perverted advantage.

Which is why it shouldn’t be a shock that there are more and more women joining the fight alongside men, forfeiting the possibility of having a family life in order to defeat one of the biggest evils of our day.

The Christian Post reports these women are feeling called to defend the freedoms of minorities against ISIS and are willing to die for this cause. Women are fighting alongside the Syrian-Kurdish forces in Iraq. As ISIS increases in numbers and dominance, the women across the Arab world joining the fight want to be part of the attack to stop them from ruining more cities and lives.

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“I believe in protecting our families and our cities from the extremists’ brutality and dark ideas. They don’t accept having women in leadership positions. They want us to cover ourselves and become housewives to attend to their needs only. They think we have no right to talk and control our lives,” said one female soldier.

Women fighting with the Kurdish Peshmerga is not a new phenomenon, as this has been happening since 1996 dueing the fight against Saddam Hussein.

Aside from winning significant battles and presenting a strong front in certain areas of Iraq and Syria, the female fighters are working to challenge certain stereotypes about women.

“Women soldiers on the front lines in Iraq and Syria are also changing and challenging cultural barriers, traditions and stereotypes of gender roles for women in the Arab world and beyond. Many women are so committed to the cause that they choose not to marry or have kids in a culture where women are defined by a man. They serve for free, sleep in the dirt, operate heavy weapons, fight alongside men, and kill IS militants — earning respect from all sides of society,” writes Hermoine Macura from the Christian Post.

“Women soldiers are free and proud…free of all boundaries and cultural restrictions. Women are mostly under a man’s power in this part of the world. However as soldiers we are equal, even in the field,” said a member of the Women’s Protection Unit in Syria.

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Since this internal conflict started in Iraq in January 2014, along with the civil war in Syria, it has created one of the biggest humanitarian disasters of our time with more than 5 million people estimated to be displaced, refugees in neighboring countries or in desperate need of aid.

The war on women continues and it cannot be ignored in mainstream news while other more dominant headlines relating to ISIS get more attention. Women are commonly victims of conflict zone rape, and the New York Times essay gives more detail than we have seen so far. In 2014, actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie hosted the very first international summit dedicated to ending the systemic abuse and sexual violence toward women in conflict zones.

At the summit were victims of previous wars, world leaders, heads of NGOs and government heads who finally realized that this specific kind of horrific war crime needs to be addressed not decades later (as in the case of certain wars in Rwanda, Kosovo and others) but now. It is often a hidden or considered less important part of war, but there is too much we cannot ignore thanks to social media, digital journalism and the ever-growing conscience of humanity who are demanding action from world leaders.

The women fighting with the men are making a loud statement across the Arab world that defending the freedoms, the rights and the families of those caught in the crossfire of war cannot be only left to a men. With more and more women being allowed to fight in combat and elite roles in various military branches across the world, the Women’s Protection Unit are a good example why armed forces leaders cannot afford to limit the opportunities based on gender, while a major terrorist organization continues to grow in power.

The battle to protect women against sexual violence during a war cannot be an afterthought. We admire the female soldiers who are willing to stand up and be counted amongst those fighting ISIS. Watch this report on some of these brave women by PBS Newshour:

One Comment

  1. RESPECT!! To OUR MANY BRAVE women… MOTHERS, DAUGHTERS, AUNTS, COUSINS, SISTERS….. BRAVO!!! And keep fighting the good FIGHT!! ✊✊✊

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