Washington: Radical Islamists in the West African nation of Mali are compiling a list of unmarried mothers, which has raised fears of cruel punishments such as stoning, amputations and executions, CNN reported.
Ivan Simonovic, the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, said Islamists controlling most of the northern part of the country have vowed to impose a stricter form of Islamic Sharia law.
Local radical groups say the law condemns relationships outside marriage.
In July, the Islamists forced a man and a woman into two holes and stoned them to death for committing adultery in remote Aguelhok town.
The UN official, who recently returned from a visit to Mali, said there were reports that Islamist groups are compiling lists of women who have had children out of wedlock, or who were unmarried and pregnant.
"The threat is there, it`s real and people live with it and they are afraid of those lists. This could indicate that these women are at imminent risk of being subjected to cruel and inhumane punishment," he was quoted as saying by CNN.
Extremists have conducted public executions, amputations, floggings and other inhuman and degrading punishments, he said, adding that women and children face greater risk.
More women in the region are ending up in forced marriages. And with wives costing less than $1,000, husbands are also reselling the women, Simonovic said.
He said the process was "a smokescreen for enforced prostitution and rapes" occurring in the region.
Simonovic said militants were also buying children and enlisting them as soldiers, paying their families $600, a major incentive in a country where more than half the population lives on $1.25 a day.
In addition, the Islamists have banned smoking, drinking, watching sports on TV and listening to music.
"We don`t have to answer to anyone over the application of sharia. This is the form of Islam practiced for thousands of years," Islamist commissioner Aliou Toure was quoted as saying.