A young Tunisian man has spoken of his experience of being used as a sex slave by Islamic State, (Daesh) fighters after he traveled to Syria to join the group.
The 22-year old man, identified by Kapitalis only as Ridha from Jendouba traveled to Syria in 2013 to fight alongside the group, attracted by their radical ideology.
Convinced that he would be on the front lines of defending his faith and bringing Shariah to the masses, the man was instead raped by a prominent leader within the group and subsequently relegated to the rank of “Ghulam” or sex slave, Kapitalis report. During his time with Daesh, the man spoke of being repeatedly raped and abused by various members of his cell, which he said was mostly made up of Tunisians.
In 2015, when Daesh leaders began to train him for suicide missions, Ridha managed to escape, retracing his steps back to the Tunisian border where he was detained and later released by local police.
According to Mohamed Ikbel Ben Rejeb, head of the Association for the Rescue of Tunisians Trapped Abroad, sexual abuse within terror groups is far from uncommon, with its victims including both genders.
According to Ben Rejeb, four Tunisian men were recently captured and abused in a similar way by a suspected militant group in the mountains of El Kef, in northwest Tunisia. While there are no statistics available on how many Tunisians have suffered sexual violence in similar circumstances, Ben Rejeb acknowledged that the practice is common.
Among such groups, with their strong emphasis on traditional religious practices, the concept of Ghulam is rooted in the centuries old tradition of prominent militants or warlords using boys and young adolescents for sexual relief, especially during times of intense conflict.
Further to those who have experienced sexual abuse while fighting in Jihadist inspired groups abroad, are the countless more fleeing the bloodshed in Syria who later face significant challenges being rehabilitated upon their return, Ben Rejeb said.
Most trying to escape Syria and Iraq are killed by the same groups they initially left to join, and the ones who successfully return struggle to reintegrate themselves into the communities they left.
“Even the ones that express regret are outcast and marginalized by society,” Rejeb said.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.