ISIS: A point of no return for women jihadis

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The desperate appeals of Aqsa's family members fall in deaf ears. She has joined the ISIS as a martyr and a wife to a rebel. Once an adorable daughter, grown with the best of education, love and affection, what turned Aqsa to the wrong direction is still incomprehensible.

Her parents say that they were moderate Muslims and did not believe in imposing any restrictions on their children. She too was a girl with moderate demands and was naive not even to know which school bus to take. Then what led to the transformation?


The bane called Internet

That one click changed the world of Aqsa and many like her. These teenagers land up in the ISIS twitter page and build a fairy-tale picture of a life that they can only imagine from the pages of a book.

A free honeymoon, medical help, a 'loving' husband, free home and the status of a 'wife' are what blind these young eyes. Most of them belonging to a very ripe age of 14-16 years, these youngsters look for 'love' of their lives. They are lured into a relationship where there is a 'hero'-courageous, brave, handsome and heroine-the girls who supports her hero for a cause. They lure her into a relationship where she is made to believe that she would be giving birth to next-generation bravehearts.

The recent case of three teenage Muslim girls who ran away from their UK home to join the ISIS is a case in point. Now considered widows (from their blogposts), these women seemed to have travelled a long way from typical teenaged girls engrossed in shopping online to jihadi widows.

One of them, in fact, posted,"May allah accept the sacrifice of my husband"; certainly, a mark of love and respect for their new-found path. Two of the three girls were sisters and are believed to have been influenced by their brother, who had travelled to Syria in 2013.

Now back from the warzone, he is in Denmark and working as a community chief.

However, it is not easy for women.

An impossible journey back

It was an easy return for the brother, but ISD senior researcher Erin Saltman believes that the girls would have a tough time coming back. She says,"If you are a female and you journey to ISIS territory, it's 10 times harder for you to return back to Western society. We have a few hundred cases of men who have returned, but for women it's almost impossible. This is because just to leave your house you need to have male permission. You need to have an escort to take you around. Once you arrive in ISIS territory your passport is ... confiscated. For you to try and leave and wander towards to border is almost impossible."

Saltman further says that once the women arrive in the Syrian land, their passports are either confiscated or burnt. And once married, they are accompanied by a male everywhere they go. So crossing the border at that stage is impossible.

She further says that things are very different from their perception. Live accounts of women who want to come back have said that they have been brutally raped and abused by the them. Some of them even did not get full meals. 

However, till date, the runaway girls have been defiant in their decisions and they seem to have stuck to that. There have also been reports that such women are passed on to different ISIS fighters as their 'wives' or sex slaves and sometimes trained to fight the war and ultimately become, as Aqsa said,"I want to become a martyr".

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