A controversial stunt to shock Londoners into seeing the brutality of Islamic State (IS) brought the terrorist group's horrific actions vividly to life on the streets of London last night.
A harrowing video shows Kurdish protesters bringing the reality of IS's slave trade of captured women in Syria and Iraq to the capital.
The protest saw a group of chained veiled women being led in front of the Houses of Parliament, Leicester Square and Downing Street - where costumed men urged the public to bid on them.
"This happens every day in Iraq and Syria. We are bringing it to you," a man can be heard saying as four chained women scream desperately for help.
One of the people behind the protest told Newsweek Europe the protest was carried out to spark an “aggravated reaction,” highlighting the “crimes ISIS are committing in Iraq and Syria.”
“What we wanted to show is that this could take place in London,” he said.
Newsweek Europe added that police had to instruct some members of the public from confronting the protesters, but reported that no arrests were made.
Islamic State fighters have captured, enslaved and sold Yazidi women and children, and claim the act is justified in Islam to prevent men from feeling "tempted" by other, non-enslaved women.
According to a piece in the group's full-colour magazine, which is published in English and evidently aimed at a Western audience, confirms the long-rumoured atrocities committed by the group in Iraq, where Yazidi women have reported being kidnapped, sold for a few dollars and repeatedly raped.
The latest issue of Dabiq magazine released on Sunday stated, "the enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers." It added, "the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations."
The Islamic State's magazine
Anyone opposing slavery in such circumstances is not a Muslim, the piece says. "Enslaving the families of the kuffār [non-believers] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharia that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Qur'an... and thereby apostatizing from Islam."
A Human Rights Watch report, which came out on Sunday, claimed hundreds of Yazidi men, women and children from Iraq are being held captive in makeshift detention facilities by the group.
Iraqi Yazidi girls at a festival near Dohuk - the minority sect have been targeted by IS
The report follows two UN officials issuing a joint statement on the "barbaric acts" of sexual violence committed by ISIS fighters.
"We condemn, in the strongest terms, the explicit targeting of women and children and the barbaric acts the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control, and we remind all armed groups that acts of sexual violence are grave human rights violations that can be considered as war crimes and crimes against humanity," Nickolay Mladenov, special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq and Zainab Hawa Bangura, special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, said.
The statement, reported by Newsweek, cited evidence of "savage rapes" being used as weapons of war against women and teenage boys and girls belonging to the Yazidi, Christian, Turkomen and Shabak minority groups in Iraq.
Academic and Middle East expert Haleh Esfandiari has said IS allow their followers to rape captured girls and women as a "reward".
"ISIS has received considerable world attention for its savage beheadings, executions of captured soldiers and men in conquered towns and villages, violence against Christians and Shiites, and the destruction of non-Sunni shrines and places of worship," she blogged for the Wall Street Journal.
"But its barbarity against women has been treated as a side issue. Arab and Muslim governments, vocal on the threat ISIS poses to regional stability, have been virtually silent on ISIS’s systemic degradation, abuse, and humiliation of women.
"To the men of ISIS, women are an inferior race, to be enjoyed for sex and be discarded, or to be sold off as slaves."
Amnesty International spokeswoman Donatella Rovera, who is in Iraq, told Huffington Post UK that, though the charity had not verified any cases of women suffering sexual abuse at the hands of IS, she said there was evidence that captured women were under "strong pressure to convert to Islam and strong pressure to marry (ISIS) fighters".
Many of the women and girls have told horrific stories of abuse. One 15-year-old Yazidi girl who escaped from the group said she was trafficked across the border to Syria and sold to a man in Raqqa, before escaping to Turkey.
"They took girls to Syria to sell them," she said, her body shyly hunched over as she spoke. "I was sold in Syria. I stayed about five days with my two sisters, then one of my sisters was sold and taken (back) to Mosul, and I remained in Syria."
In Raqqa, she said, she was first married off to a Palestinian man. She claims she shot him, saying the Palestinian's Iraqi housekeeper who was in a dispute with the man helped her by giving her a gun. She fled, but she had nowhere to run. So she went to the only place she knew, she said — the house where she was first held with the other girls in Raqqa.
There, the militants did not recognise her and sold her off again — for $1,000 to a Saudi fighter, she said. The Saudi militant took her to a house where he lived with other fighters. "He told me, 'I'm going to change your name to Abeer, so your mother doesn't recognize you,'" she said. "You'll become Muslim, then I will marry you. But I refused to become a Muslim and that's why I fled."