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Women excised from public life, abused by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq

Associated Press writer Vivian Salama contributed to this report from Baghdad.

The gunmen came to the all-girls’ elementary school in the Iraqi city of Fallujah at midday with a special delivery: piles of long black robes with gloves and face veils, now required dress code for females in areas ruled by the Islamic State group.

“These are the winter version. Make sure every student gets one,” one of the men told a supervisor at the school earlier this month.

Extremists are working to excise women from public life across the territory controlled by the Islamic State group, stretching hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo in the west to the edges of the Iraqi capital in the east.

The group has been most notorious for its atrocities, including the horrors it inflicted on women and girls from Iraq’s minority Yazidi community when its fighters overran their towns this year. Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls were abducted and given to extremists as slaves. A report by Amnesty International released Tuesday said the captives — including girls as young as 10-12 — endured torture, rape and sexual slavery, and that several abducted girls committed suicide.

In day-to-day life, the group has also dramatically hemmed in women’s lives across the Sunni Muslim heartland that makes up the bulk of Islamic State group territory, activists and residents say. Their movements are restricted and their opportunity for work has shrunk.

In Iraq’s Mosul, the biggest city in the group’s self-declared caliphate, “life for women has taken a 180-degree turn,” said Hanaa Edwer, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist. “They are forbidding them from learning, forbidding them from moving around freely. The appearance of a woman is being forcefully altered.”

At least eight women have been stoned to death for alleged adultery in IS-controlled areas in northern Syria, activists say.

At least 10 women in Mosul have been killed for speaking out against the group, Edwer said. In August, IS detained and beheaded a female dentist in Deir el-Zour who had continued to treat patients of both sexes, the U.N. said.

Relatives of women considered improperly dressed or found in the company of males who are not relatives are lashed or imprisoned. In the IS-controlled town of al-Bab in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, an activist described seeing armed militants walking with a stick in hand, gently whacking or jabbing at women deemed inappropriately dressed….

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