Tunisia's women's ministry said Saturday it would come up with a plan to counter the growing number of women traveling to Syria to wage so-called "sex jihad" by comforting militants.Earlier rumors of "sex jihad" in other contexts have been bitterly disputed and called hoaxes, but Tunisia's government seems to be confirming it in this case.
Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jeddou told the National Constituent Assembly on Thursday that Tunisian women had gone to Syria where "they have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100" militants.
"After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of 'jihad al-nikah' – [sexual holy war, in Arabic] -- they come home pregnant," he told MPs.
Ben Jeddou did not elaborate on how many Tunisian women had returned to the country pregnant with the children of jihadist fighters.
On Saturday, the health ministry statement said it had noted "an increase in the number of young women leaving for so-called jihad al-nikah", although it did not give any figures.
Jihad al-nikah, permitting extramarital sexual relations with multiple partners, is considered by some hardline Sunni Muslim Salafists as a legitimate form of holy war.
Media reports have said hundreds of Tunisian women have gone to Syria for this purpose, in addition to hundreds of Tunisian men joining jihadists battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
It is not hard to imagine that single Muslim women who have already lost their virginity might be interested in turning their statuses from potential outcasts to heroic jihadists.
UPDATE: MEMRI has the video of Jeddou's speech:
UPDATE 2: This post casts doubt on the story, and notes that no corroborating evidence has been found yet. (h/t Gidon)