Human Rights Watch: Women in Syria have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, physically abused, harassed, and tortured during Syria’s conflict by government forces, pro-government militias, and armed groups opposed to the government, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) will conduct a review of the situation for Syrian women on July 4, 2014, in Geneva.
The 47-page report, “We Are Still Here: Women on the Front Line of Syria’s Conflict,” profiles 17 Syrian women who are now refugees in Turkey. Through written and photographic portraits, the report documents ways in which the conflict impacts women in particular. Women profiled in the report experienced violations by government and pro-government forces as well as by armed groups opposed to the government such as Liwa’al-Islam and extremist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). Some female activists and humanitarian aid providers said they had been threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, and tortured by government or armed opposition forces. All six former detainees profiled in the report experienced physical abuse or torture in detention; one woman was sexually assaulted multiple times. Other women said they had been victims of discriminatory restrictions on their dress and movement. Several women were injured or lost family members in indiscriminate attacks on civilians by government forces.
“Women have not been spared any aspect of the brutality of the Syrian conflict, but they are not merely passive victims,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Women are taking on increasing responsibilities – whether by choice or due to circumstance – and they should not have to pay with intimidation, arrest, abuse, or even torture.” [Continue reading…]