That’s how much it would take to buy all 3,500 Yazidi girls that were known to be held by the Islamic State at the end of 2014, assuming a price of $12 each.
There are probably more girls in captivity by now, as the Islamic State takes new towns, but then again, many of the girls die, either killing themselves or are so beaten and bruised that they’re just left for dead.
The Islamic State has so many girls available that it is offering them as prizes in competitions.
It’s not isolated, it’s not fringe elements.
In many wars armies are known to let loose torrents of unrestrained savagery. Rape as a weapon of war has accompanied pretty much every armed conflict, especially when an army takes a town (two particularly brutal examples being the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by the fourth crusade and the sack of Badajoz in 1812 by the British).
As horrific as this is, it’s not nearly the institutionalized, organized, state sanctioned system of sexual slavery that the Islamic State is attempting to establish.
At its worst, war time rape is used as a deliberate tactic to demoralize and degrade the enemy. This is also something that the Islamic State perpetrates on its defeated enemies, but the slavery is another level still.
It is not intended to be a temporary war-time tactic, but a peace-time institution.
In May, in the ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq, a piece purporting to be by the wife of a jihadist (identifying herself only by her relationship with a man, incidentally) justified the practice. They even threatened to sell Michelle Obama in a slave market.
They ominously ask the reader: “Did you think we were joking?”
Slavery has existed for thousands of years, but the abolitionist movement has gained traction since the early 19th century. In 1981, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery (although NGOs estimate that slavery still thrives in secret).
The Islamic State seeks to reintroduce slavery. It cannot be allowed to do so.