Deir Ezzor – Sound and Picture

When going out, Nour looks outside the door which overlook the main street to make sure that there are no Hosba members there. She doesn’t wear Sharia costume imposed by IS, therefore she has to avoid Hosba members who roam the streets in search of “irregularities.”

Nour said: “I hate Hosba members as much as I hate Bashar al-Assad, they arrest who make irregularities and whip and insult others. Recently IS started to sentenced women who violate Sharia costume to forced labor such as cleaning work in IS members’ houses and headquarters”.

Arresting disobedient women

From early in the morning, Hosba patrols roam the streets of cities and towns under IS control looking for irregularities. Recently, Hosba members started to enter the civilian homes without permission to search for women irregularities, and when they find any violation, they arrest the woman  and one of her relatives without any hesitation, in spite of the conservative nature of tribal in the east of Syria and people’s sensitivity there to the issue of arresting women for any reason.

Zaid Al-Fourati, “Sound and Picture” reporter, said: ” arresting women has become a regular thing in IS areas and occur almost daily. The members of Hosba are always looking for any justification to arrest and insult”.

Al-Fourati also said: “Women hate Hosba which became a big concern for them as a result of the large number of arrests performed in the recent period, especially in the eastern countryside of Dier Ezzor, particularly in the cities of Mayadeen, Al-Asharah and Albu Kamal. I’ve noticed that the aim of arrests is to get fines and to insult the parents, not for violating Sharia costume itself”.

Fines, whipping, and now forced labor

Since the beginning of its control of Dier Ezzor province to now, IS has diversified in the sanctions imposed on women’s Sharia irregularities, initiated by fines, then whipping and forced labor.

Ahmed from the city of Deir Ezzor said to “Sound and Picture”: “IS began with imposing a cash payment of 3,000 to 5,000 Syrian pounds, which is the price of full Sharia costume. Later, IS started to punish women by whipping them in streets, Hosba headquarters or in Khansa’a battalion places if any, as Khansa’a  battalion are only found in specific areas, especially in Raqqa”.

Testimonies from women in Deir Ezzor

Samar, from the city of Albu Kamal east of Deir Ezzor, had been arrested by the women’s Khansaa Battalion in the city. She confirmed that she was arrested because of lifting the veil off her face in the market. This cost her to pay a fine of 5,000 Syrian pounds, as well as being insult and humiliated. Samar said: “being arrested by Khansa’a Battalion is the worst experience I’ve ever had. I hope this will not be repeated until we get rid of those monsters.”

Fatima’s experience with the members of Hosba was so cruel after being seen by Hosba patrol working in her house field without wearing Sharia costume. Fatima said: “I tried to escape but they followed me inside the house. Then they took me and my brother to the headquarters of Hosba . Hosba judge condemned me with 20 lashes and forced my brother Ahmed to do the punishment himself. He did it out of fear that the punishment could be carried out by one of their members. I’m not the only women whipped without being able to do anything. “

Khawla was among the first women who were subject to forced labor, as she was arrested for standing with her cousin. Khawla said: “I was arrested with my cousin and taken to one of Hosba headquarters. My cousin was released by the judge, but they forced me to go to one of IS leaders’ house to clean up. Many other women was also forced to do cleaning work in Hosba headquarters and the Islamic police stations to atone for the violations they have made!”.

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