Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Rape of Women and the War in Syria, by Cecilia Brainard


Today I’d like to look at the plight of women as a result of the Syrian War. 

Reports indicate that in Syria the rape of women is used as a “weapon of war” and perpetrated “by all sides,” according to UN official Erika Feller. 

She says:  "This displacement (of civilians) is not only about loss of homes and economic security. It is also, for many, accompanied by gender-based crimes, deliberate victimization of women and children and a frightening array of assaults on human dignity...

"Reports are revealing that the conflict in Syria is being marked by rape and sexual violence employed as a weapon of war to intimidate parties to the conflict destroying identity, dignity and the social fabrics of families and communities." (source: Displacement in Syria...)

Another organization,the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a US based NGO, confirms that rape is “a significant and disturbing feature of the Syrian civil war." “These rapes, sometimes by multiple perpetrators, often occur in front of family members,” the report states.
Another organization, Women Under Seige reports that:
  • 80 percent of the reports include female victims; 20 percent of reports include male victims
  • Ages of female victims ranged from 7 to 46
  • Gang rape allegedly occurred in 40 percent of the reports about women
  • Nearly 50 percent of reports about men involve rape, while 25 percent detail sexual violence without penetration, such as shocks to the genitals

Here also is an excerpt from an article dated June 18, 2013, from The Atlantic, entitled: "Take Your Portion: A Victim Speaks Out About Rape in Syria. It is a rare testimony by a woman who has given her real name, although the news account did not use her entire name for safety reasons.  Alma Abdulrahman lived a double life as a wife and mother and as an FSA (Free Syrian Army) battalion commander in charge of about 15 men at time.  

One day in April, she witnessed a regime soldier beating a 16-year-old boy at a checkpoint and she tried to  intervene. She was herself beaten and incarcerated by the Assad regime.

"During dark sessions over a period of 38 days, guards whipped her with a wire, strung her alternatively by her wrists and feet, and injected the crook of her elbow twice a day with a kind of drug that made her feel high, she says. The things Adbulrahman recalls the men saying as they allegedly raped her multiple times were so filthy she is loath to repeat them -- "it's too dirty and too low"-- although she remembers them saying, "Here is the freedom you wanted" (a phrase similar to ones other women have reported hearing while being raped in Syria). And she can summon up at least one face. And a couple of names.

"Within an hour of her arrival at the detention center in Harasta, about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Damascus, where she was held in a cell with 20 other women, she says she was roused to consciousness and her torture began. She describes being gang-raped daily by men who smelled strongly of alcohol. Floating in and out of consciousness, she would kick and yell as best she could while lying next to another woman doing the same.

"We were blindfolded and raped and we would know who was raping us," she says, tearing up for the first time in our interview. Before being blindfolded, she could see what she calls the "boss" sit in front of them, teaching them "exactly what to do and say to us."

"They were ordered to take this one, to take 'your portion,'" she says. "And they would take it."

In another news account published in The Telegraph, Richard Spencer writes, "Women were in particular danger of being dragged away and raped, sometimes gang-raped, at checkpoints set up by armed groups. The report did not single out either side as responsible, but the biggest network of checkpoints is in the regime areas and the most serious allegations of human rights abuses have been made against regime troops and it's "Shabiha" militia."

There are more testimonies and news articles about the subject matter, simply Google, Rape Syria.

What is going on in Syria is horrific and should be a concern to the rest of the world. Massacre, rape, violence, slaughter, destruction -- but despite all of these, I would still like to end this blog entry on an upbeat tone.  As bad as things are, there is change going on in Syria right now. The phoenix rises out of the ashes.

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it -- always." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

photos courtesy of The Syrian Revolution 2011

Telegraph - Fear of rape 'driving Syria refugee crisis'
Read also my other blog entries about the Syrian War:
All for now,
tags: Syria, war, conflict, revolution, women, rape, violence against women, children, Homs, Aleppo, Damascus, Middle East, Civil War, Conflict, Assad 

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