The bomber who detonated at the Kurdish wedding in southern Turkey, killing 54, mostly women and children, might or might not have been a young teenager â€“ The Turkish authorities are reportedly backtracking on its initial claim, which caused so much additional shock throughout the world.
The suicide bomber intercepted and disarmed by the Iraqi police in Kirkuk, before he could blow himself and others up, certainly was young. He appeared to be about 12, and cried as he was detained, perhaps from relief, or fear, or disappointment, depending how extensively he was brainwashed by ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the unsuccessful attack.
ISIS calls them the â€œcubs of the Caliphateâ€. Some are kidnapped from their parents; some are children of fighters. They are indoctrinated, trained, used for propaganda purposes, used as servants, and finally used as soldiers and bombers; more accurately the cannon fodder of the Caliphate.
Meanwhile, over 3,000 Yazidi women and girls are still in the hands of ISIS, most of them used as sex slaves. An unknown number of captured Yazidi boys is amongst those being brainwashed and indoctrinated into becoming the â€œcubsâ€.
And in Nigeria, 2018 of the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram remain missing and unaccounted for, despite a very popular hashtag campaign. Some are presumed to have died, victims of the fighting between the Nigerian army and the Islamists. All have been converted to Islam by their captors and many married to Boko Haram fighters.
None of this smorgasbord of horror, misery and depravity is new or for that matter unique to Islamism. Since the dawn of time children have been made to fight and women have been considered the spoils of war. In recent times, both child soldiers and mass rapes and sexual slavery have been common throughout countless civil wars across Africa. Itâ€™s all a sad remainder that while (mostly) men fight â€“ and of course die, and are maimed, and suffer â€“ women, children, the elderly, the infirm â€“ the non-combatants, as they are clinically called â€“ are forced to suffer with them. So yes, sadly nothing new, but it perhaps rankles us more in the new century, when we are supposed to be more peaceful and (dare I say it) civilised, and when we are constantly exposed through the media to the horror that once seemed very distant. And rankle it should. But the problems will not be solved, nor our guilt assuaged, by twitting about it or liking another awareness rising campaign on Facebook. It might be the 21st century, but some things remain the same.