Migrants, Housewives, Warriors or Sex Slaves: AQ’s and the Islamic State’s Perspectives on Women

Authored by: Andrea Sjøberg Aasgaard

Categories: Human Rights, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Countering Violent Extremism, Mass Atrocities, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Violent Extremism
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2017
Citation: Aasgaard, Andrea Sjøberg. "Migrants, Housewives, Warriors or Sex Slaves: AQ's and the Islamic State's Perspectives on Women." Connections 16, no. 1. 2017.

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Why do young Muslim women from the whole world join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, despite the fact that the group is notorious for conducting terrible sexual violations against women? Through comparing how al-Qaeda (AQ) and IS are positioning women in their ideological literature, this article sheds light on IS’ appeal to women. This is interesting, as AQ in a historical perspective only attracted a handful of European women to physically join the group. The comparison highlights that AQ and IS position women in different ways: as housewives, migrants, warriors and sex slaves. Both groups’ ideologies agree that a woman’s primarily role is to be a housewife and mother, and exclude in principle women from the battlefield. However, only IS is emphasizing that Muslim women have a right and duty to migrate to its territory. Through using ideological arguments in its literature, IS convinces its supporters that it is a religious duty to enslave women the group defines as idolaters. For this reason, IS’ brutality against non-Muslim women will not discourage its female supporters from joining the group.