Catholic peace organization condemns sexual enslavement of Mozambican Christians

Mozambique A group of women and children guarded by security forces in Mucimboa da Praia of Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province in early September 2023. | Credit: Denis Hurley Peace Institute

Reports have emerged of Islamist jihadists operating in Mozambique forcefully converting abducted Christian women into Islam and sexually enslaving some of them.

In an interview with ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, the director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute confirmed reports of a leaked internal circular, purportedly from the leadership of the Islamic State, allegedly advising the group’s fighters in the Southern African country to also kill those who refuse to convert to Islam.

“We have confirmed from the people in Cabo Delgado that indeed, it is true; the fighters are turning Christian women into sex objects and forcing them to convert to Islam,” Johan Viljoen said in the Wednesday, Sept. 20, interview.

“We condemn any attempt to force people to change their religion,” Viljoen added. “We condemn the Islamists for forcing women into sex slavery. It is a reprehensible violation of human rights.”

The leaked Islamic State internal circular, reported by Cabo Ligado, shows the terrorist group advising its members to conduct medical tests on nonvirgin enslaved women before distributing them among fighters and killing those who refuse to convert to Islam.

The advice is based on allegations that the kidnapped women are infecting the ISIS fighters with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

“Captured women with AIDS who do convert can be released for a ransom or killed if they refuse to become Muslims,” the circular reads. “Those who convert to Islam and are confirmed free of the disease can be given [to ISIS members].”

The document notes that nonvirgin women should all take tests before they are given away as slaves to ISIS members.

Armed men belonging to the Islamic State — referred to as Al Shabaab in Mozambique — have been attacking innocent civilians, mostly targeting Christians, since 2017.

The conflict has also been hinged on glaring socioeconomic disparities between Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, and the marginalized north, especially Cabo Delgado, where fighting is concentrated.

Terrorists have also made inroads into neighboring provinces of Nampula and Niassa, where they continue to attack civilians. In the latest attack, 11 Christians were reportedly separated from the Muslim population in the embattled Cabo Delgado province and executed.

Reports indicate that more than 800,000 people in these Mozambican provinces are still displaced despite the return of some civilians and a heavy military presence.

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

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