Syrian regime uses sexual violence against its people – Human Rights Watch

2012-06-15 13:29

Beirut – Syrian government forces have used sexual violence to torture men, women, girls and boys detained during the current conflict, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

The New York-based group said it had interviewed 10 former detainees, including two women, who described being sexually abused or witnessing such abuse in detention.

This included “rape, penetration with objects, sexual groping, prolonged forced nudity and electroshock and beatings to genitalia,” a statement said today.

Many witnesses said they were imprisoned because of their political activism, while others said the reasons for detention were unclear but that detainees suffered the same abusive tactics.

“Sexual violence in detention is one of many horrific weapons in the Syrian government’s torture arsenal and Syrian security forces regularly use it to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director.

“The assaults are not limited to detention facilities. Government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps.”

HRW said the full extent of such abuse in and outside of detention facilities remains unknown, as the stigma in Syria surrounding sexual violence makes victims reluctant to report abuse.

“In many cases interviewees told Human Rights Watch that victims did not want their families or others in the community to know about the assault because of fear or shame,” the statement said.

HRW said victims have limited access to medical or psychological treatment and other services at home, or even as refugees in neighbouring countries, which is exacerbated by “taboos surrounding sexual abuse, families restricting their movement and the fear of being subjected to so-called ‘honour’ crimes”.

The watchdog said it did not have evidence that high-ranking officers ordered troops to commit sexual violence, but many of the reported assaults “were in circumstances in which commanding officers knew or should have known the crimes were taking place,” such as in detention centres.

But it said information, including from defectors, “indicates that no action has been taken to investigate or punish government forces and shabiha who commit acts of sexual violence or to prevent them from committing such acts.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.