A crime is committed twice if we choose to ignore it, or neglect reporting it and bringing it to the attention of the world.
This post was first published in January 2013 with references to three articles on rape by the media. Yesterday ( June 10, 2014), I added the following note to the original post and decided to reblog.
Rape in Syria. Free all our women prisoners
The sexual assault on a young woman in Tahreer square has brought to my mind the sexual assaults and gang rapes of thousands of Syrian women outside Assad prisons as well as inside. Women and girls as young as two years were savagely raped and more often than not tortured, dismembered and burnt or disposed of in unknown graves in great numbers. Male children were also savagely assaulted like Hamza, even men.
But the rape of young women and girls inside the prisons of Assad remains an example of the most horrific assaults on women in custody or as prisoners of conscience known to Syria or the world at large. We have seen pictures of men tortured and starved to death; we have seen their bodies bearing horrific injuries inflicted by the torturers , but we have never seen pictures of women tortured or starved to death because of the taboos regarding women’s bodies specifically in the Arab and the Muslim worlds. Therefore we mostly have narratives of terrible suffering and untold injuries inflicted on women, we have accounts orally transmitted, but we do not have sufficient hard evidence except some sporadic reports from Human Rights organizations, UN reports and accounts from doctors documenting the testimonials of raped women and girls who had managed to survive or escape but whose identities remain confidential.
The rights of these women must never die or evaporate. Justice should be done unto them even posthumously. We must never never stop campaigning for the release of women held in the prisons of Assad or the Islamists. There are different methods of torture and even when women are not raped they can be degraded, debased, tortured psychologically and mentally, taught how to succumb and prostrate themselves to authority whether temporal or religious. They could be indoctrinated and taught to learn their places in a patriarchal male dominated society by ruthless religious armed men.
I would like more men to speak against rape since it is mainly committed by men. If more men condemn rape and stand against it, voicing their opinions and expressing their abhorrence and denunciation, as a few have already done on Facebook, perhaps we can make a small step forward. Because speaking about rape is also a sort of taboo in Arab and conservative Islamic societies, the rapists are getting away with murder. Rape and sexual violence against women, children and even against some men, should be debated and discussed, not only by doctors, social workers, psychoanalysts and specialists, but by ordinary people as well, by you and me, and mainly by the thinkers, intellectuals, journalists, the media and cultured people, those who are empowered to sway public opinion.
©Alisar Iram, June 2014
The following is the original post which was published in January 2013. It starts with an extract from a report issued by the International Rescue Committee.
“The report also details horrific levels of sexual violence, describing “rape as a significant and disturbing feature of the Syrian civil war.” In the course of three IRC assessments in Lebanon and Jordan, Syrians identified rape as a primary reason their families fled the country. “Many women and girls relayed accounts of being attacked in public or in their homes, primarily by armed men. These rapes, sometimes by multiple perpetrators, often occur in front of family members,” the report states. The IRC was also told of attacks in which women and girls were kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed.
Because of the stigma and social norms around the “dishonor” that rape brings to women and girls and their families, Syrian survivors rarely report rape. Many interviewed by the IRC also said survivors fear retribution by their assailants, being killed by “shamed” family members, or in the case of girls, being married off at an early age “to safeguard their honor.” For survivors who manage to flee, there is a shortage of medical and counseling services to help them recover in the communities where they have settled and even there, challenges continue. Many women and girls face unsafe conditions in refugee camps as well as elevated levels of domestic violence.”
(International Rescue Committee)
I have added three links to articles and reports which deal with the terrible crimes of rape committed against the Syria women
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/war-rape-the-forgotten-pandemic-sweeping-syria-8460566.html http://www.rescue.org/press-releases/syria-displacement-crisis-worsens-protracted-humanitarian-emergency-looms-15091 https://womenundersiegesyria.crowdmap.com/reports/view/45
Please also see: