Women who were sex slaves under the Islamic State group say they were forced to take birth control so their captors could rape them repeatedly without fear of them having children.
The women, who escaped from the group known widely as ISIS, said terrorists supplied the birth control pills and made sure they were ingested every day.
“Every day, I had to swallow one in front of him. He gave me one box per month. When I ran out, he replaced it. When I was sold from one man to another, the box of pills came with me,” explained one woman, who was 16 when held for a year by ISIS, to the New York Times.
She only learned months later that she was being given birth control.
Pills were not the only method used—oral and injected contraception were utilized in some cases. If the women did happen to get pregnant despite the prevention, they were forced to get abortions.
“Each month, he made me get a shot. It was his assistant who took me to the hospital,” said one teenager, who asked not to be identified.
“On top of that he also gave me birth control pills. He told me, ‘We don’t want you to get pregnant.'”
The dozens of women interviewed described how they would often be sold if a urine sample showed the hCG hormone, whose presence indicates pregnancy.
ISIS leaders have said in official publications that it’s “legal” for a man to rape a woman he enslaves under most circumstances. But one rule mandates that the women must not be pregnant.
Princeton University professor Bernard Haykel, an expert on Islamic law, said the rule’s purpose is to guarantee no confusion over a child’s paternity.