Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note:

The use of women as a form of currency in Syria has become an influential part of the economy, according to experts. Most often, this occurs when an individual has an urgent need of something but can’t afford it. However, women have also become a tool used by militant groups in order to deepen their own financial gain. For example, a large group of Assyrian Christians, mostly women, were released by ISIS last year after being ransomed for a lucrative sum. Using women as a type of currency has provided Syria’s warring factions with income and weapons, which has consequently limited a woman’s ability to travel for fear of the consequences.

09/18/2017 Syria (News Deeply) – Syria is flush with war profiteers taking advantage of the most devastating aspects of the conflict, from the black-market trade of burial plots to the monopoly on dairy in besieged areas. The crumbling economy has made survival in Syria dependent on a – usually extortionate – system of transactions and trades. Perhaps the most brutal consequence of this has been the use of women as a form of currency.

Women are kidnapped for ransom, sold into marriage and, in some cases, traded for weapons and goods and used as negotiation leverage. Syria is not the first conflict in which women have been used as tools to further political, military or financial goals by the warring factions. But in Syria women have become an instrumental part of a war economy that is largely built on violence against them, experts say.

“Using women [as currency] is common when someone is in an urgent need of something but they can’t possibly afford it,” Eman Obeid, a gender-based violence specialist for the Danish Refugee Council, told Syria Deeply.

Even the civilian echelons of Syrian society have used women as a form of currency, where they can be exchanged for protection, permission to cross a border or front line or even the cost of rent.

“Sometimes this is being used to extract power from someone stronger … and sometimes it’s the other way around, someone with more power demands a woman when money is not available,” Obeid said.

One of the most notorious, albeit lucrative kidnappings has been that of the hundreds of Assyrian Christians – many of whom were women – taken from Hassakeh province in February 2015. ISIS demanded an $18 million ransom payment, but eventually settled for less, according to the Associated Press.

“When we talk about the political economy of terrorism, and the suppression of terrorist financing, we talk about the oil trade or antiquities market. But we don’t talk about sexual violence,” Letitia Anderson, the advocacy and women’s rights specialist with U.N. Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, told Syria Deeply.

“The amount of revenue generated from trafficking women, extorting their families, forcing ransoms, forcibly marrying women and girls is not negligible,” she said.

[Full Story]