Monday, June 24, 2013

Syria: Detention and Abuse of Female Activists

Women Detail Torture and Abuse by Government in New Testimonies

June 24, 2013

"(New York) – Syrian military and pro-government forces known as shabiha have arbitrarily detained female opposition activists as well as female relatives and neighbors of pro-opposition activists and fighters, and in a number of cases, subjected them to torture and sexual abuse.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 Syrian women who were detained, either due to their own engagement in activities related to government opposition, or that of their family members. Eight were themselves activists who had been detained, all of whom said that security forces and shabiha had abused or tortured them in detention. The abuse included electric shocks, keeping them in stress positions, and using metal rods, wires and nightsticks to beat and torture them. The eight women had attended peaceful demonstrations, created posters for opposition groups, provided humanitarian aid and medical care to those affected by the conflict, transported defectors from the Syrian military, and assisted displaced Syrians. All said security forces detained them at checkpoints or during home raids, and held them for periods lasting up to nearly 14 months between February 2012 and April 2013. In two cases, the women said their captors raped them while they were detained at the Military Intelligence Branch in Tartous, and the Air Force Intelligence Branch in Mezze, Damascus.....

“Beyond the daily gun battles, women have been a powerful voice in the opposition in villages and towns across Syria,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “In response, the Syrian government is punishing women for delivering humanitarian assistance, participating in protests, and supporting the opposition by subjecting them to detention, torture, and sexual assault.”....."

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