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12/09/2021 Mozambique (International Christian Concern) – Since 2018, ISIS-linked militants have kidnapped and enslaved over 600 women and girls in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The group, known locally as Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) and Al-Shabab (or mashababos) forced younger, healthy-looking, and lighter-skinned women and girls in their custody to ‘marry’ their fighters, who enslave and sexually abuse them,” reported  the news source.

“Others have been sold to foreign fighters for between 40,000 and 120,000 Meticais (US$600 to US$1,800).”

Mausi Segun, the Africa director at HRW, called for the immediate release of these women from Al-Shabab captivity.

Over the past three years, an insurgency has been rising in Northern Mozambique which has left at least 3 thousand people dead and over 7 thousand forced to flee.

In March of this year, terrorists killed dozens during an attack on the city of Palma in Cabo Delgado province, an area where believers are often kidnapped, forced to flee, or killed at the hands of Islamic extremists. 

In a statement after the recent attacks on the northern Mozambiquan town of Palma, IS boasted that its affiliate had killed dozens of security personnel—and Christians, including westerners from what the statement termed “Crusader nations.”

Between August 2019 and October 2021, Human Rights Watch reported that they interviewed 37 people who were kidnapped, or had close connections to kidnappings, in Cabo Delgado.

“Some mothers were begging the fighters to take them instead of their daughters,” a 27-year-old man told HRW in one of the interviews. “But one of the mashababos said they didn’t want old women with children and diseases.”

Another interviewee reported that he was forced to choose women and girls to have sex with the fighters, adding that “Those [women] who refused were punished with beatings, and no food for days.”

Segan concluded: “An unknown number of women and girls remain in captivity in Mozambique, facing horrific abuses daily, including enslavement and rape by Al-Shabab fighters.

Mozambican authorities should intensify efforts to rescue and reintegrate survivors into their communities, and promptly ensure their humane treatment and access to medical and psychosocial services.”

For interviews, please contact: [email protected].