Human Rights Watch has brought to light the terror waged against the girls of Somalia:
Gunmen from the Islamist al-Shabaab militia have routinely abducted teenage girls to work as servants on the frontline and forced them to marry fighters, according to a new report documenting the abuse of children in Somalia's civil war.
Girls who resisted capture can face the most appalling consequences, Human Rights Watch found. A 16-year-old girl who refused to marry an al-Shabaab commander who was three times her age was killed by his men and beheaded. Her head was brought back to the school as a warning to others.
A 19-year-old student from the Bakara district of the capital Mogadishu described how girls were taken from his school.
"Girls were taken at gunpoint. One girl said she could not go and al-Shabaab shot her in the forehead in front of my class. They said that she was a spy for the government. She was 19 years old," he said.
The forced marriage campaign by the al-Qaeda affiliate is part of its effort to impose its harsh version of Sharia on every aspect of the personal lives of women and girls, according to Human Rights Watch.
The report depicts a nightmarish world where the childhoods of boys* and girls are effectively ended at the barrel of a gun and in the short time it takes heavily armed fighters to force children from their classrooms and on to waiting trucks.
Shari'a is the legal code inspired by Islamic theology which clearly sanctions this behaviour, since the wife's consent is not integral to the union, nor is she ever an equal partner in the marriage. While the al-Shabaab version of "marriage" is extreme, it is not unIslamic. Muslim marriages only take on a gentler approach when outside influences appeal to natural law and the dignity of the human person.
[* the HRW report is likewise gravely concerned about the boys, who are also kidnapped at a young age. They are forced to fight in militia battles, and thus essentially provide cannon fodder, due to their inability to do anything of value on the front lines.]