Some women enslaved by the Islamic State were forced to undergo grim procedures even after they escaped the jihadists' clutches.
According to a dispatch from a researcher at Human Rights Watch, some unmarried women from the persecuted Yazidi sect were compelled to undergo invasive tests by officials in Iraq's Kurdistan regional government.
"Kurdistan officials took their needs seriously, but subjected some unmarried women and girls to 'virginity tests' - an abusive and inaccurate procedure - as part of a forensic, post-rape examination," wrote HRW's Rothna Begum, who along with colleagues interviewed numerous victims of the Islamic State's campaign of systematic rape. "Judge Ayman Bamerny, who heads a committee gathering evidence of ISIS crimes, told us these tests were seen as evidence of rape by Iraqi courts."
The tests "are based on a commonly held but inaccurate belief that all women and girls who are virgins have intact hymens that bleed on first intercourse," Begum explained. "As such, they are ineffective for determining whether a woman or girl has been raped."
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She later added that it appears the Kurdistan officials have now stopped carrying out these tests, and are apparently following guidelines laid out by the United Nations.
A recent U.N. report estimated some 3,500 people in Iraq remain in Islamic State captivity. Many of that number are Yazidi women and girls, who were abducted by the hundreds and subjected to horrific abuse by the jihadists since they are considered apostates.