Resorting to a new tactic to lure and retain members, militant groups are offering kidnapped women and girls to jihadist fighters as sex slaves or wives, a UK-based think-tank was quoted as saying by Reuters on Monday.
The think-tank also said that these terror groups use sex trafficking to fund their extremist operations.
The promotion of sexual violence by the extremist group was a vital means of “attracting, retaining, mobilising and rewarding fighters” as well as punishing disbelievers, the Henry Jackson Society said in its report.
It added that groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Islamic State in Syria and Iraq may resort to such practices as they continue to lose ground militarily.
“Propaganda on sexual slavery serves as an incentive for new recruits and foreign fighters, with the promise of wives and sex slaves acting as a 'pull factor',” researcher Nikita Malik said in the report.
She added that “religious elements are infused into sexual violence practices to skirt around the moral wrongdoing of rape”.
The report also claims that the sexual exploitation of women and children alongside trafficking helped fud the caliphate and was used to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is prohibited.
Ever since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009, it has abducted thousands of girls and women in northeast Nigeria –most notably the more than 200 Chibok girls abducted from their school in 2014 – with many used as cooks, sex slaves, and even suicide bombers.
Boko Haram members would purposely impregnate women and girls to produce the "next generation of fighters", the report said.
Similarly, thousands of women and girls were abducted, tortured and sexually abused by Islamic State fighters after the militants rounded up Yazidis in the village of Kocho, near Sinjar in 2014.
The think-tank also said that since Islamic State and Boko Haram are cash-strapped, sex trafficking and kidnapping for ransom could increase to sustain their operations.