Armed groups, especially ISIS, Boko Haram, among others, now sell their female captives on WhatsApp and other social media, it has been revealed.

In a report written by James Cockayne, Head, United Nations University Office at the United Nations, armed groups have reportedly forced about 45.8 million vulnerable people into slavery and have also set up slave registries and markets, openly advocate for the revival of slavery through official mouthpieces, and have even issued “how-to” manuals on slavery.

One of the victims, Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who, in tears, recently recounted her torturous ordeal as an Islamic State sex slave, before members of the United Nations Security Council, brought to the knowledge of the officials the plight of more than 5,000 Yazidi women, children and men thought to be enslaved by Islamic State and Boko Haram right now.

It is believed that the organisations are openly encouraging and organising slavery on a scale not seen since World War II, partly because of social media.

Recently, a member of Islamic State attempted to sell two enslaved women on Facebook, just as displaced female Syrian refugees in Lebanon had been traded on WhatsApp. The Islamic State relies increasingly on secure apps such as Surespot and Threema for its communications.

In the past year, the UN reports, fighters have used the encrypted communications app Telegram to set up online slave auctions, circulating photos of captured Yazidi women, including their age, marital status, current location and price, who have been forced into labor works including construction, cleaning work, digging trenches, mining, agriculture, sexual exploitation and military service.

Murad, who is set to be inducted as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, has succeeded in bringing to global attention that slavery in social media age is not just Iraq and Syria’s problem, but a form of slavery that has become international. A recent UN Commission of Inquiry found that men from Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Uzbekistan have participated in Islamic State’s enslavement and human trafficking crimes. Other armed groups are following suit.

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