“Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old … Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon.”
“A mother with a three-year-old and a seven-month-old baby, with a price of $3700.”
“To all the bros thinking about buying a slave, this one is $8000.”
These posts recently appeared (in Arabic) on Facebook, WhatsApp and popular Middle Eastern messenger app Telegram, usually the domain of winking emojis, holiday snaps and cat videos.
Behind the words, which were accompanied by photos of the girls and women described, is ISIS, the radical militant group waging a bloody war on the world – and known to condone and encourage sex slavery.
In August 2014, thousands of Yazidi women and girls were captured by ISIS fighters on a mission to wipe out the Kurdish-speaking minority. Over the past two years, many have been rescued; some have spoken out about the daily physical and sexual abuse they suffered. But it’s estimated that 3000 still remain.
And it's these 3000 girls and women whose pictures are being plastered on social media and sold as sex slaves. It's believed that by taking the sordid business online with a digital database, women will be unable to escape past Islamic State checkpoints.
The apps involved have been quick to react: Facebook removed the photos within hours, and WhatsApp spokesman Matt Steinfeld told News.com.au that the social media app had “zero tolerance for this type of behaviour ... We disable accounts when provided with evidence of activity that violates our terms. We encourage people to use our reporting tools if they encounter this type of behaviour."
ISIS have always used the internet to distribute propaganda and recruit fighters – selling and trading woman via the web looks like the next chilling tactic in their merciless war.
Sources: News.com.au, The Washington Post