KABUL -- The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has been committing horrendous crimes against local residents in a number of villages in Darzab and Qush Tepa districts of Jawzjan Province.
In the latest atrocities, ISIS militants have forced dozens of women and girls to marry them and conscripted dozens of children for terrorist training, officials and residents say.
ISIS has a history of abusing women, including systematic rape, sexual exploitation and forced marriage, in Nangarhar Province and now in Jawzjan Province.
"A number of Uzbek ISIS members have come to Darzab and Qush Tepa districts, bringing along their wives and families," Ramatullah Hashar, former Darzab district governor, told Salaam Times.
"Some ISIS fighters who did not have wives, however, forced many widows and young girls in areas under their control to marry them," he said. "So far ISIS militants [in those districts] have forced 50 women and girls to marry them."
"ISIS has issued orders for residents of the areas under their control, making it mandatory for families with young girls and widows to hang flags on their houses," Jawzjan Provincial Council member Halima Sadaf Karimi told Salaam Times.
"ISIS has asked families with, for instance, three daughters to hang three flags on top of their houses, and those with four daughters should hang four flags, and so on and so forth," she said. "Moreover, such families must give one of their daughters in marriage to ISIS."
Forced marriage forbidden in Islam, Afghanistan
Reza Ghafoori, a spokesman for the Jawzjan governor, confirmed the reports of ISIS's forced marriage of local women.
"Our security and reconnaissance forces have gathered information from ISIS-controlled areas in Darzab and Qush Tepa, indicating that members of this group have forced several women to marry them," he told Salaam Times.
"According to Islamic laws, two basic principles of marriage are proposal and acceptance," Azizurrahman Mohammadi, a religious scholar in Kabul, told Salaam Times.
"Islam emphasises the consent of both the woman and man who are getting married," he said.
"When marriage is done through compulsion and without the consent of a woman, it becomes a non-Islamic act that contradicts the laws of Afghanistan as well as the views of all scholars of various Islamic sects," said Mohammadi.
ISIS training children for suicide attacks
ISIS is also abusing the children of Jawzjan Province, forcing them to train and fight on behalf of the terrorists.
On November 7, "ISIS members took 30 children from Darzab to their headquarters in Sardara village in order to train them for suicide attacks", said Karimullah, the uncle of a 14-year-old child whom ISIS took away.
"ISIS has demanded that residents of Darzab and Qush Tepa join the group," he told Salaam Times, adding that the only alternative is to "evacuate their homes and leave their areas".
"ISIS has forcibly taken more than 200 children from their families in Darzab and Qush Tepa districts and has moved them to Mughal and Sardara villages, where they will undergo terrorist training," said Hashar, the former Darzab district governor.
Ghafoori, spokesman for the Jawzjan governor, confirmed ISIS's conscription of Jawzjan youth.
"ISIS has called on the people to send children under the age of 20 to be recruited in this group, an issue that has raised much concern among the public," he said.
Women, children main victims of ISIS
"Seventy-percent of the victims of ISIS terrorist activities are women and children," said Karimi, the Jawzjan Provincial Council member.
"With the closure of schools in areas dominated by ISIS, more than 150 female teachers have lost their jobs while thousands of girls and boys have been deprived of education," she said.
"Moreover, those women who used to work outside their homes or in the agriculture sector suffered the biggest economic damage due to limitations and restrictions imposed upon them by ISIS," Karimi said.
"ISIS's cruelty and war forced 5,000 families in Darzab and Qush Tepa districts to flee their homes and become displaced, 70% of whom are women and children," she said. "In addition, 25,000 children are deprived of receiving polio vaccines."