"When have you read such a terrible story?" my daughter asked.
And yet it wasn't impossible for either of us to imagine these ISIS recruits "from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden" enthusiastically embracing a theology that allows them to rape girls as young as 11 with God's blessing.
"But what about the Islamic State women," my daughter wondered, "the wives of the ISIS fighters, their sisters, their mothers, the women who are around...how can they stand to watch what the men are doing to these girls?"
Good question. What about the Islamic State women? Where are they in the picture? What do they think of the enslavement and sexual assault of the these girls?
Maybe they're horrified beyond words. Maybe they think this is what unbelievers deserve. Maybe they turn a blind eye. Maybe they pretend the enslaved girls don't exist. Maybe they don't care. Maybe they do. Maybe some of them secretly help the Yazidi girls and women in any way they can. Maybe some of them have the jobs as jailers, guards, administrators and facilitators. Maybe it tears the hearts out of some of them to see girls younger than their own daughters being raped daily. Maybe some of them prostrate themselves in prayer and console themselves that it's all God's will. One thing for sure is that it's beyond the power of any Muslim woman in Iraq or Syria to stop what's being done to the Yazidi girls.
There was another article in yesterday's Times about the three British school girls who ran away to Syria last February to join ISIS. Shortly before she left one of the girls wrote in a twitter post referring to the Islamic State: "Hearing these stories of sisters being raped makes me so close to being allergic to men."
True, the writer was only 16 years old at the time and so probably was not completely in touch with the harsh realities of life, yet maybe her response, a sort of "Oh-those-men-what-can-you-do-about-them" attitude reveals the mental mechanism by which the women in ISIS are conditioned to cope with the atrocities perpetrated by the men. Maybe it's the same mental mechanism that all women in such situations have always used to cope.
On the other hand, the article points out that this girl and her two companions, as highly valued Western Muslim women, would receive very different treatment by ISIS than the Yazidi girls.
Those three British girls have now been with ISIS for six months. I wonder what they think now about the Yazidi girls and the men who enslave and assault them? I wonder if at this point they have any room left in their minds to ponder any girl's situation besides their own?
1. "Enslaving Young Girls, The Islamic State Builds A Vast System Of Rape," Rukmini Callimachi, The New York Times, August 14, 2015.
2. "Jihad And Girl-Power", Katrin Bennhold, The New York Times, August 18, 2015.