Dozens of Australian women ‘supporting terrorism’

Australia women

Up to 40 Australian women have either taken part in terrorism or supported terrorist groups, officials say.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that an increasing number of young women are joining Islamic State (IS).

She told parliament that more women were travelling to Syria and Iraq to join their militant husbands or to marry a fighter.

Experts are worried about the effect of returnees, and on those who support them, on domestic security.

‘Sexual slaves’

Dozens of Australian nationals are thought to be fighting for IS in Iraq and Syria.

On Wednesday, Ms Bishop said that women account for nearly one-fifth of all foreign fighters there.

She said that it “defied logic” that women would join groups such as IS.

“If the killings and executions aren’t enough, Daesh (IS) has published instructions on the treatment of sexual slaves which includes raping and beating women,” she said, as quoted in ABC News.

“Even children are not immune with instructions encouraging sexual assault on girls who’ve not yet reached puberty.”

Ms Bishop called for family and friends to reach out to vulnerable young people to prevent them from being radicalised.

Growing threat

In another development, an Australian man fighting with Kurdish militants against IS has been killed.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory said that he died on Tuesday in an IS attack on the YPG militia in north-eastern Syria.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP news agency: “The YPG isn’t actively recruiting foreigners, but people from countries like Canada, the United States, Britain, Spain, Australia, Holland, Austria and France have travelled to Syria to join their ranks.”

Officials have warned that Australia faces a growing threat from radical Islamists.

On Monday Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a push to toughen citizenship laws in an attempt to target domestic extremists.

“Australians who take up arms with terrorist groups, especially while Australian military personnel are engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, have sided against our country and should be treated accordingly,” he said.

For dual nationals, this means revoking or suspending citizenship. He added that people born in Australia could also lose some privileges if they broke anti-terror laws.