Women under siege: The use of rape as a weapon of war in Syria

The announcement over the weekend to suspend the activities of UN observers in Syria represents a stark indication of the chaos unfolding within the country, as well as the “escalating violence”.

Furthermore, over the course of the Syrian crisis there has also been horrendous reports of gender based violence.

Last week the organisation Human Rights Watch reported that Syrian government forces have been using sexual violence to facilitate torture of both men and women detainees. In addition, the organisation has also heard testimonies from civilians who have also suffered violence of a sexual nature in their own homes.

Sickeningly, sexualised violence is all too frequently used as a weapon of war in conflict situations, such as had been the case in Rwanda and Darfur.

However, a Women’s Media Center project called Women under Siege is working to document, highlight and publicise sexualised violence in Syria in a visual “crowd map”.

Director of Women under Siege, Lauren Wolfe explains:

Continued in the Independent


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Tags: Assad, Based, Gender, Rape, Syria, Violence


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Comment by Charles C. Weisbecker on July 4, 2012 at 6:53am

Thank you for the work you are doing.  Cate also brought up something as well which is some of my research on the phenomenon of sexual violence against men in armed conflict and genocide.  If anyone is interested in learning more they can feel free to contact me.

Comment by Cate Najjuma on June 20, 2012 at 7:50am

 ...an even more marginalised group in such situations is men that are raped. They are made vulnerable by societal constructions and perceptions such as the attitude that men should be strong and acknowledgement of rape is a sign of weakness. The poor health state that follows is saddening and yet many of them suffer silently

Comment by laura simms on June 19, 2012 at 4:09pm

I am grateful for the article, and the reminder of the increase of rape as a weapon of war.  The cowardice that sustains and empowers degrading acts of sexual violence that renders women powerless in the moment and afterwards, needs to be seriously considered in peace work and reconciliation since there is so much shame involved for victims and perpetrators.  The use of children as soldiers and sex slaves, along with  the rampant use of rape and humiliation, the desecration of women's bodies, is a subject fraught with cultural, religious and psychological considerations.  What antidotes are being used or developed to stop rape in war? And, what detraumatization processes are working in the world that heal at the deepest level in community?

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