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The Islamic State’s Problem With Women

It is telling that women feature heavily in the Islamic State’s rise and fall. While ISIS’s craven massacre of Yazidi women in Syria in 2014 helped put it on the map, by showcasing its violently misogynistic ideology, its gradual downfall is coming partly at the hands of Kurdish women fighting against it on the front lines.

ZURICH – It is telling that women feature heavily in the Islamic State’s rise and fall. While ISIS’s craven massacre of Yazidi women in Iraq and Syria helped put it on the map, its gradual downfall is coming partly at the hands of Kurdish women fighting against it on the front lines.

It is easy to see a simple revenge story in this progression, but a deeper reading points to the fundamental role of women in ISIS’s ideology, and their future role in its denouement.

When ISIS captured territory in 2014 to establish its self-proclaimed caliphate, it wanted to stage a spectacle that the world would be unable to ignore. So it resorted to the mass abduction, murder, rape, and enslavement of women, especially among the minority Yazidis. ISIS’s brutality against its female captives was intended to humiliate the enemy and send a warning to anyone who did not adhere to its extremist, radical interpretation of Islam.

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