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Event Summaries
October 20, 2017

Event Summary: Trafficking Terror: How Modern Slavery and Sexual Violence Fund Terrorism

Henry Jackson Society

On the 9th October 2017, the Henry Jackson Society’s Senior Research Fellow Nikita Malik released her exceptional report titled Trafficking Terror: How Modern Slavery and Sexual Violence Fund Terrorism in an event chaired by Lord Carlile of Berriew and Baroness Cox of Queensbury. Nikita has significant expertise in women and radicalisation, the prevention and reintegration of child soldiers, and the role of families in deterring terrorism, to list a few. Having already published several ground-breaking reports backed and endorsed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and various other institutions, Trafficking Terror is the latest in a string of fine publications.

The report outlines the tactics used by terror organisations to fund their operations. With previous sources of income obsolete, we are now seeing an increased link between human trafficking and terrorism, as well as a significant increase in the link between sexual violence and extremism. Importantly, the criminal nexus between the three components of the report (human trafficking, sexual violence and terrorism) have been mainly unexamined up until now. Ultimately, Malik suggests that prevention, process and prosecution are the key elements of justice that are missing when bringing those responsible to account. With ISIS, for example, losing territory by the day, they have been increasingly turning to trafficking as a way of creating a new stream of income. Furthermore, with people trafficked in from further afield via the Sahel region of North Africa and further East into Asia, the ideology of ISIS continues to spread far and wide. As a result, we must look into forms of prevention and ways of bringing about prosecution, the question being ‘how best do we use laws, national and international, in order to provide justice’?

The use of sexual violence has more justifications within terror groups than is immediately obvious. What must be taken into account beyond the extreme brutality of what it entails is both the propaganda stream that develops from it, and the worrying reality that sexual violence is being used to create the next generation of jihadi fighters – almost all children born as a result of these actions are immediately removed from the mother and are kept under the control of terror organisation responsible.

Furthermore, in the parts of the world in which extremism are rife, there is a significant stigma towards those who speak out about sexual violence. With the worrying reality that even in the UK women are often too scared to publically speak out about sexual violence until only after the death of the perpetrator, the issue is considerably worse in areas home to terror organisations such as ISIS. In Syria, the laws regarding sexual violence are poor, and Nikita’s report states that they must be brought in line with international standards to help prevent further sexual violence.

With the International Centre for Counter Terrorism upholding the Human Trafficking and Rome Trafficking Regulations, they have still only been able to prosecute one individual for sexual trafficking to date. As a result, Nikita’s report has urged for the creation of a new legal task force, fronted by the UK government that will tackle the illicit economies in which it is easier for trafficking to take place, and will uphold and further-enforce the values and rules of international law regarding trafficking and sexual violence.