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Islamic State Tightens Dress Code for Women

FILE - Veiled women sit in a garden in the northern province of Raqqa, Syria, March 31, 2014. The Islamic State has imposed strict new dress codes on women.

FILE - Veiled women sit in a garden in the northern province of Raqqa, Syria, March 31, 2014. The Islamic State has imposed strict new dress codes on women.

Islamic State has issued new dress codes on women living in its areas in Syria, say local residents and activist groups.

IS is forcing women to wear only black. It punishes women who don’t obey, local residents say. IS says any women’s clothing that is not black is seductive.

One man living in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor said IS members arrested him because his wife and mother were wearing colorful clothes.

The resident, Abu Hassan, told the Syrian opposition website All4Syria the women were in their home when religious police drove by and saw their colorful clothes.

“They didn’t release me until I paid the equivalent of one gram of gold,” the man said. His statements could not be independently verified by VOA. IS bans contact with outsiders in areas it controls.

IS has imposed strict rules on civilians – especially women -- since gaining control of large areas of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014.

Religious police, also known as al-Hisbah, are in charge of enforcing the IS rules about clothes. The word al-Hisbah means accountability in Arabic.

In addition to punishing women for the way they dress, IS has also arrested many women for hanging laundry outside.

IS “considers anything related to women as tempting for men,” said a resident in the IS de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria.

The man, who did not give his name, told VOA that IS requires his wife and two adult daughters to be escorted by a man to leave the house.

He said a neighbor who let his wife visit her sister without a male escort was punished with 40 lashes in public and spent several days in jail.

Local activists say IS recently strengthened its strict moral codes after the U.S.-led international coalition stepped up its bombing campaign against IS positions in Syria and Iraq.

The latest attacks have affected Islamic State on many levels, according to Hussam Eisa, a member of “Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently,” which reports on IS abuses in Syria.

Eisa said the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, along with attacks on IS by Russia and Syrian government forces, have made the group look weak to local residents. He said this has led Islamic State to take “desperate measures.”

Despite the airstrikes, IS militants have made some recent advances in government-held areas of oil-rich Deir Ezzor. Local reports say the group controls much of the area around a military airbase it has been surrounding for months.

Sirwan Kajjo reported on this story for Bryan Lynn adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

impose – v. to force something to be accepted or put into place

seductive – adj. tempting or attractive

equivalent – adj. equal in value, amount or meaning

rules – n. a set of understood regulations regarding conduct

accountability – n. the fact or condition of being accountable

tempting – adj. to be appealing or attractive

de facto – adv. in reality, actually

escort – n. a person who accompanies someone else for protection

desperate – adj. losing hope in something, sometimes leading to reckless or dangerous behavior

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