Tunisian women are travelling to Syria to partake in a “sexual jihad” by comforting rebel fighters, a minister has claimed.
“They have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100 militants”, Interior Minister Lofti Bin Jeddou reportedly told members of the National Constituent Assembly on Thursday.
“After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of ‘jihad al-nikah’ (sexual holy war), they come home pregnant,” he added in quotes provided by AFP.
While he did not put a figure on the number of women allegedly partaking, Bin Jeddou claimed 6,000 Tunisians had been banned from travelling to Syria since March, and that 86 individuals had been arrested on suspicion of forming “networks” to send them there, Al Arabiya reports.
Hundreds of Tunisian men have also gone to join the ranks of jihadists fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Sexual jihad fatwas typically allow armed members to have sexual intercourse with women as part of a temporary contract. It also allows women to sleep with more than one man a day, Fars News explains.
It is considered by some hardline Sunni Muslim Salafists as a legitimate form of holy war.
It emerged the practice was occurring in Syria some months ago.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Former Mufti of Tunisia Sheikh Othman Battikh complained in April that 13 Tunisian girls were "fooled" into traveling to Syria to offer sexual intercourse to rebel fighters, in order to create an army strong enough to topple the regime.
The origins of these “temporary marriages” have been attributed to Saudi Arabian scholar Sheikh Mohammed al-Arifi, Iranian channel Press TV reported in December last year.
Al-Arifi was claimed to have issued a fatwa permitting militants to engage in short-term marriages with Syrian women as young as 14 to “satisfy… their sexual desires and boost their determination in killing Syrians.”
According to CNS.News, al-Arifi later disowned the fatwa, though some Arab commentators are sceptical, with one source telling Al-Bawaba in March: “Then again, one might backtrack, standing accused of selling young innocents to militant Muslims.”
Al-Arifii has sparked controversy with previous fatwas, including one which demanded daughters do not wear revealing clothing or sit alone with their fathers, lest they incite his lust.