In all the battles waged by men, one of the most effective ways to destroy the enemy is to destroy its women. Rape and sexual abuse are wartime “strategies” as old as war itself.

Yesterday The New York Times ran a devastating report that hundreds of girls as young as 11 have been raped and impregnated by members of Boko Haram. Based in Nigeria, the radical Islamist sect has long proven its cowardice by targeting girls, including the 300 mostly Christian schoolgirls they kidnapped last year, inciting the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. For the young victims now carrying their abusers’ unborn children, returning to anything like normal life is impossible to imagine.

The same goes for those targeted by another radical Islamic group, this one spreading terror throughout the Middle East. Popular Christian writer Ann Voskamp recently visited refugees in Northern Iraq who had fled ISIS, the self-declared Islamic State. Voskamp noticed 5- and 7-year old girls among the families, but no 9-year-olds. The reason, writes Voskamp: “ISIS sells 9-year-old girls in slave bazaars… They are categorized. Stripped. And shipped naked. Examined and distributed. Sold and passed around like meat. Livestock.”

ISIS “has institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations,” a UN representative confirmed last week. On the ground, females are sold as sexual slaves for $43—with the price going up to $172 for the youngest (ages 1–9). The UN reports that one girl was “married” more than 20 times, each time forced to undergo surgery to “restore” her virginity.

Why does war and terror target women in particular? ...

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