Tunisia, the largely moderate North African country, has struggled to stymie the flow of hundreds of young men leaving to fight alongside rebels in Syria’s more than two-year-long, bloody civil war.
Now, the interior minister says, the country must also slow a stream of young Tunisian women leaving for Syria on “sexual jihad.”
The Arabic term (jihad al-nikah) describes a phenomenon, evident in other Arab countries as well, of women traveling to the battlefield to provide comfort—and sexual favors—for the rebel fighters. Some hardline jihadists consider the practice a legitimate complement to Holy War.
“They have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100” militants, the minister, Lofti Ben Jeddou said during a national security address to members of the National Constituent Assembly, according to the AFP. “After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of ‘jihad al-nikah,’ they come home pregnant.”
The minister did not say how many women have traveled to Syria, though local media reports have suggested hundreds of women have done so. He added that the government has prevented some 6,000 Tunisians from traveling to Syria.