Angelina Jolie, ISIS, rape, sexual violence, violence against women, terrorism

For years ISIS have been using terrorism as a tactic, however Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie today warned that terrorist groups are now using rape as the “centre point of their terror” and insisted that the extremists are encouraged to use it as a “very effective weapon.”

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Speaking to the House of Lords in London, she said: “The most aggressive terrorist group in the world today knows what we know, knows that it is a very effective weapon and they are using it as a centre point of their terror and their way of destroying communities and families, and attacking and dehumanising.

“This terrorist group we are dealing with in Syria and Iraq is absolutely using rape. They are dictating it as policy.

Jolie, who has long been campaigning the issue, said that it was beyond something the world had ever seen before and urged a “very, very strong response” to the terror groups in Iraq and Syria. “I think the most important thing to understand is what it’s not. It’s not sexual, it is a violent brutal terrorising weapon,” she said.

Sexual attacks on women have become a huge part of the ISIS culture; last year it was revealed that the group had made rape a central part of their religion, an act demonstrating the lengths they are willing to go to exude power and instil terror. In a recent article for CNN, the United Nations special representative of the secretary general on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, came to the disturbing conclusion that the conflict in the Islamic State is in essence “a war on women and girls.”

“The refugees and displaced women and girls I met told me how sexual violence is being committed strategically, in a systematic manner, and with a high degree of sophistication by most of the parties to the conflicts…” she said.

“But while it is true that most parties to the conflict are committing sexual violence, it is extremist groups like ISIL that have been particularly public and shameless in institutionalizing sexual violence and engaging in the brutalization of women and girls as a tactic of terror to advance their key strategic objectives.”

Some of the tactics she pointed out included allowing fighters’ generous access to women and girls in a bid to increase recruitment, using women as a vessel to produce children for fighting purposes, and selling females in slave markets to generate funds for the group.

Zainab’s words echo that of humanity at its absolute worst. Likened to the revival of the slave trade in the 21st century, it’s clear that action needs to be taken and fast. Everyone deserves the right to live in an environment where being a women isn’t something to be ashamed of, or afraid of. According to international humanitarian law, there is an obligation to punish such crimes currently being committed by ISIS, but where and how do we start? Do we fight war with war, or do we find other means of intervening? Ones thing is for certain: the UN needs more support; this is something that needs to be addressed not as a nation, but as a globe.

Image via Reuters