28,618 Females Have Been Killed in Syria Since March 2011 Including 93 Due to Torture, with 10,628 Forcibly Disappeared, and 11,523 Sexual Assault Incidents against Females
Paris -- The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today issued its tenth annual report on violations against females in Syria. The report, issued to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, reveals that at least 28,618 females have been killed in Syria since March 2011, 93 of them by torture, with 10,628 more forcibly disappeared, in addition to 11,523 sexual violence incidents against females, most of all violations perpetrated by the Syrian regime.
The 45-page report notes that women have played a pivotal role in the popular movement that started in March 2011. which turned after to an internal armed conflict after nearly a year. They were often subjected to violations due to their role and in the demonstrations as well as political, humanitarian, media and human rights activities, and they were also affected by the repercussions of violations that affected the Syrian society as a whole. Some violations against Syrian women amounted to crimes against humanity, and the worst part is the continued violations, including horrific ones, for more than a decade, which made the state of women in Syria extremely fragile and vulnerable, as they lost various forms of legal and human rights protection. The report added that women have special, gender-based requirements in armed conflicts, and the international humanitarian law granted them wide-ranging protections.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, executive director for the Syrian Network for Human Rights, said:
"Grave violations against women, some of which amount to crimes against humanity, are no longer receiving the necessary attention and condemnation. We have even noticed a normalization of the crimes due to their constant repetition over a long period of time, which is extremely dangerous. It is crucial to reject and condemn the violations that Syrian women have been exposed to by all sides, with the Syrian regime being by far the most prolific offender, and to ensure that crimes and their perpetrators are never normalized."
The report is based on the Syrian Network for Human Rights' archive, which has grown steadily since March 2011 through daily monitoring and documentation of violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, conscription, sexual violence, attacks with various types of weapons. The report, also outline the record of violations against females by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria between March 2011 and November 25, 2021 according to the SNHR database. This report also draws on the accounts and interviews we conducted with female victims and survivors, and with victims' relatives, or witnesses of incidents, and included 9 accounts in this context.
According to the report, females in Syria have been subjected to many and repeated patterns of violations, varying in severity, spread, and current and future consequences on the Syrian female. The report focused on categories of grave and life-threatening violations identified by the United Nations Security Council, mainly extrajudicial killing, which is the most severe in Syria due to the high percentage of female victims, followed by arrest/detention, which turns in the vast majority of cases into enforced disappearance, then torture and sexual violence. It also focused on the recruitment of female minors, assaults on females, and harassment by parties to the conflict.
The report documents the deaths of 28,618 females at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria between March 2011 and November 25, 2021, including 21,996 females killed at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, 1,593 at the hand of Russian forces, 981 at the hands of ISIS, and 83 at the hands of Hay'at Tahrir al Sham (HTS). The report further reveals that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have killed 260 females, while the Armed Opposition/ the Syrian National Army killed 1,318 females. A further 961 females were killed as a result of attacks by the US-led coalition forces, and 1,426 females were killed at the hands of other parties. The analyses of the data showed that the Syrian regime is responsible for nearly 77% of extrajudicial killings, and cumulative index that 2013 was the worst year in terms of targeting females with killings, followed by 2012, 2014 and 2015.
In terms of arrest/ detention, enforced disappearance, and torture, the report reveals that at least 10,628 females are still arrested/ detained or forcibly disappeared by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, including 8,497 at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, 44 at the hands of Hay'at Tahrir al Sham, 869 at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, and 942 at the hands of the Armed Opposition/ the Syrian National Army. The report adds that 276 of these females were arrested by ISIS before its retreat and are still forcibly disappeared, as of November 25, 2021. The report included a cumulative index of the arrests of females since March 2011, showed that 2015 was the worst in terms of arrest, the Syrian regime is responsible for about 80 % of the cases.
As the report further reveals, 93 females have been killed under torture in Syria since March 2011, including 74 in the Syrian regime's detention centers, while 14 females died under torture in the detention centers of ISIS, two in the detention centers of Syrian Democratic Forces, and two in the detention centers of the Armed Opposition/ the Syrian National Army, while one female died due to torture at the hands of other parties.
The report stated that when detaining females in the detention centers of the security branches, the Syrian regime forces do not take into account their natural need and subject them to the same conditions of detention as the men. The women are placed in cells adjacent to the cells in which the males are held, they use the same bathrooms, and are searched and taken for interrogation by male security members as there are no female members to supervise them within the security branches, and they are also subjected to all forms and methods of torture similar to the men.
In many cases, we have recorded the arrest of women with their children or with other women from their family, especially elderly or pregnant women, which increases the suffering of women during detention and exposes them to extra vulnerability when deprived of the medical and health care they need, as well as the needs of their children. Their children suffer from the same conditions throughout the period of their detention. From March 2011 to November 25, 2021, we have recorded no less than 152 incidents of arrest of children who were accompanied by their mothers, and no less than 89 incidents of childbirth inside detention centers, all of whom suffered from a shortage of the necessary health care after birth and the lack of food and medicine and psychological and health requirements, which resulted in the death of 7 newborns.
The report added that Syrian regime has used sexual violence against women as an effective tool of torture, or as a form of punishment, and to spread fear and humiliation among the female detainees, and in many of the recorded cases, sexual violence was practiced based on a sectarian background or as a retaliation according to the role the detainee played in the popular movement for democracy, whether this role was political, medical, relief, humanitarian or other civil society activities.
The report further noted that Syrian regime forces committed at least 8,013 incidents of sexual violence, including approximately 879 incidents that occurred inside detention centers, and at least 443 cases of sexual violence against girls under the age of 18.
The report reveals that, in addition to extrajudicial killings, Syrian Democratic Forces have carried out detentions of females. During their detention in SDF detention centers, females endure extremely poor conditions, and are subjected to various methods of torture. They are often mistreated on the basis of their ethnicity, denied healthcare and food, and also held without facing any specific charges and without any trial being held until long after their original detention, which can last for periods of several months or years.
The report adds that SDF has continued to carry out forced conscription in a widespread manner in areas under their control, targeting both female adults and underage females, forcing them to join the SDF's ranks, which has deprived these female children of education.
The report documents 136 incidents of conscription of children by the SDF since its establishment, 56 of them were conscription of female children.
The SDF has practiced many types of sexual violence against females, both in the group's detention centers and, in the camps, managed and administered by the group. The report documents at least 12 incidents of sexual violence committed by SDF personnel as of November 25, 2021.
The report mentioned the harassment and assault committed by the Syrian Democratic Forces against females, especially female activists or workers in civil society organizations in the SDF areas of control.
Regarding the violations by Hay'at Tahrir al Sham, the report notes that Syrian women in the areas under the control of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham suffer from negative discrimination against them in general, and the restriction of freedom of movement and clothing is only one aspect of it, but the violations against them go far beyond that, and their suffering increases exponentially if they are working or wishing to work in public affairs, or in community organizations, whether it was in media, relief, or politics. We have documented that many women who were involved in public affairs were subjected to harassment and intimidation to push them to abandon their work. In this regard the report recorded at least 108 incidents as of November 25, 2021, in which women were targeted because of their work or opposition to the practices of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham.
The report also details the most notable violations committed by the Armed Opposition/ the Syrian National Army, noting that females have been targeted for detention/ kidnapping either because of their activities, due to their objection to these forces' practices in areas under their control, and in many cases due to their ethnicity, with most of these incidents taking place without any judicial warrant, with no clear charges against those detained.
During their detention in the detention centers belonging to the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army, female detainees are routinely subjected to various methods of torture, and are also deprived of healthcare, food and other essential requirements, in addition to being deprived of their children if they are arrested with them.
The report concludes that despite the legal arsenal, including UN Security Council resolutions that stipulate respect for the rights of women and children, including female children, the Syrian regime controlling the Syrian state was the first party to violate laws, and has been the only party to commit crimes against humanity. The other parties to the conflict followed in its footsteps, and indeed committed violations that were not practiced by the Syrian regime itself, such as forced marriage, restrictions on clothing, freedom of movement and forced conscription, some of which amount to war crimes. International law has been violated in a comprehensive manner in the Syrian conflict that has spanned nearly a decade to date. The report stresses that the crimes perpetrated against Syrian women will not end without a political transition towards a democratic system that respects human rights, in particular the rights of women, and extends over the entire Syrian territory.
The report stresses that the crimes included in it have been practiced by the Syrian regime in the form of widespread and systematic attacks which constitute crimes against humanity, including: murder; torture; rape, and persecution, adding that forced marriage may also amount to a crime against humanity; the ISIS terrorist group practiced this violation in a widespread manner, and it has also been practiced by Hay'at Tahrir al Sham.
The report reveals that the crimes included in it that the Syrian regime and the parties to the conflict have practiced include: Sexual violence, lethal violence, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity.
The report recommends that the international community should provide protection and assistance to forcibly displaced women, including IDPs and refugees, especially girls, taking into account their specific needs, primarily for protection.
The report also recommends that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and local and international humanitarian and relief organizations should coordinate humanitarian aid operations according to the areas worst affected and should reject attempts at pressure and blackmail by the Syrian regime which is working to harness aid to its advantage, as well as urging these organizations to allocate adequate resources for the rehabilitation of female survivors, especially those who have been subjected to violence, sexual exploitation and forced marriage, and should establish special care and protection refuges for abused women who have been ostracized by their families and communities.
In addition to other recommendations...