Report: Rape Used as Weapon of War against Syria Women

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Women in Syria have been raped in detention, used as human shields during military operations and kidnapped to pressure and humiliate family members, a new report said on Monday.

"Abuses against women (have been used as a) deliberate tactic to defeat the other party from a symbolic and psychological perspective, making women desirable targets as the conflict rages on," said the report published by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network.

Issued on International Day to End Violence Against Women, the report said Syria's brutal war "created a context ripe for violence against women, including sexual violence."

The report said rape was documented in seven provinces, including Damascus, mostly "during governmental raids, at checkpoints and within detention facilities."

It quotes a woman identified as Aida, a 19-year-old from Tartus on Syria's coast, whose family is close to the anti-regime Muslim Brotherhood.

She was detained between October 2012-January 2013 and during that time was raped on two separate occasions, including by three soldiers the day before a court hearing.

"The interrogator left me in the room and came back with three personnel who took turns raping me. I fiercely resisted the first but when the second started, I became more terrified and couldn't resist," she is quoted as saying.

"When the third started, I totally collapsed. I was bleeding all the time. As the last one finished, I fell on the ground. Ten minutes later, the prison doctor came in and took me to the bathroom where he gave me an injection to enable me to stand before the judge," she said.

The report says rape has often been used by regime forces as a weapon during military operations.

It cites a case in central Homs province, where a nine-year-old girl was raped in front of her family by government troops in the Baba Amr district in March 2012.

The report warns of the difficulties documenting rape because of the stigma attached to sexual violence.

"Many victims of sexual violence -- if not most of them -- chose or were forced to leave their homeland, carrying with them the physical and (psychological) marks to their country of asylum," it said.

The watchdog also documents the use of women as human shields, and the "growing phenomenon" of women being kidnapped by both the regime and opposition forces.

It said women were often abducted for use in prisoner exchanges or "to pressure their male relatives to surrender," the group said.

The report cites the Syrian Network for Human Rights as saying that between December and May 2012, it documented the cases of 125 women and two children being taken hostages in this way.

Syria's war has killed more than 120,000 people and forced millions more to flee.

Of those who have become refugees, three quarters are women and children, the United Nations says.

Comments 4
Default-user-icon Beirut (Guest) 25 November 2013, 19:26

Josh bustany, you know very well that the baath culture has a history of raping women. We saw what you did in lebanon or is that a lie as well? Are you claiming everyone is lying? Who told you that one can't be raped without being killed afterwards? Do you think the baath cares if it gets out? They have used such methods on purpose to humilate opponents and to let the word get out that their sisters, mothers and daughters would be raped. In lebanon, your soldiers even used to rape for no reason at all, just for feeling the urge. Im not saykng they were the only ones but it is part of the baath culture systematic tactic of war to use rape as a weapon.

Thumb Mystic 25 November 2013, 19:28

Lol typical propaganda and fake information. Why would the Syrian Army which consists of Syrians rape their own people? People that believe this story are naive, the real people that rapes are the Al Qaeda scum and their jihad al nikah

Thumb Mystic 26 November 2013, 01:13

Yes true fact rellikifalas. Yet we still have the ignorant and stubborn Saudi supporters out there who justify the Al Qaeda and oppositions actions.

Thumb LebCynic 26 November 2013, 03:10

Seriously This is pathetic journalism without facts or any references to any sort of credible sources. Far as us readers know Aida is an al-qeida extremist dressed as a woman. They have history of doing that. We have seen this tactic be used every time Government Troops advance, but the reality is wars are not won through false news headlines and stories. I find it astonishing that could run such a fabricated story.