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The Silent Screams of Syria’s Prisoner Women

The Silent Screams of Syria’s Prisoner Women

Introduction

Many Syrian women have been imprisoned, tortured, and raped. Furthermore, they have still been suffering from severe, multiple human rights violations in Syrian jails since the beginning of the war. Some of these women survived but some of them unfortunately lost their lives in front of the eyes of the humanity. It has been statistically reported that there are more than 5.6 million Syrian immigrants.[1] Approximately, 3.5 million of them migrated mostly to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt.[2] These are the number of legally registered immigrants and there are still a huge number of Syrians who are trying to migrate to some other countries in an illegal way. In this process, some of them faced with great adversities  while some of them managed to arrive in other countries but continue  their lives as runaways.

In this article, the tragedy of the Syrian prisoner women due to the seven-years ongoing war and the psychological impact of the Syrian war upon people as well as legal and humanitarian aspects have been mentioned. At the same time, how they cope with these tragedies and difficulties have been investigated.

War Crimes in Syria

From the beginning of war, many war crimes have been performed against civilians, innocent women, children and old people by the regime of Assad. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives in the Syrian war. Turkey and European countries have faced with the biggest immigration crisis since the World War II. The region became unstable, war crimes spread, and Syria's cultural heritage was destroyed. International organizations and global powers were indifferent to this human tragedy and could not produce any solution.

The Drama of the Syrian Prisoner Women

Crimes against women consist of the ugliest face of dirty war in Syria. Being relatives of or having close relationships with the  opponents against regime was seen as a sufficient reason for the imprisonment, torture, and killing of thousands of Syrian women. According to the statements of prisoners’ relatives, there are approximately 13,581 women in jail and half of them were released after a certain period. However, there are still more than 6,736 women out of whom 417 are young girls who  still live under this brutality in Syrian jails.[3]           

Nur al-Khatip who is following files of prisoner women said that ‘‘there are no distinction between women and men regarding the  torture, persecution and cruel treatment in jails. All kinds of violence, using force, and bullying are implemented against women, men and children. Many women are also being exposed to defamation, psychological violence and physical assault in the police station. They do not allow women to get even the most basic and vital needs. At the same time, they are sexually abused, threatened, and humiliated while being inquireded by security guards.”[4]

No doubt that the worst crime against women is sexual abuse in Syria and it  consists of threatening with rape or sexual abuse, disturbing and directly raping.

From the beginning of the war, sexual violence has become one of the most common war weapon against women utilized by Syrian regime forces. They are mostly and systematically using this derogatory way to break the resistance of the community and also to disturb the opponents psychologically.

According to the SOHR data, approximately 10,000 women have been raped up to now and therefore unpredictable number of unwanted pregnancies and birth happened. Also, the number of women who were exposed to  sexual violence is estimated to reach  7,500.[5]

In this process, thousands of Syrian women suffered from many kinds of violations of human rights. Unfortunately, it is impossible to reach the real number of these violations because of the silence of the victims. However, there is a reality that many Syrian women will continue living with these traumas until the end of their lives

Expected Result: Trauma

Being exposed to these war crimes, the Syrian women have started to go through  some psychological and social problems such as depression, divorcing, attempting to suicide, difficulties in life, health problems and symptoms of traumas.

Some women can cope with trauma through professional, medical, and social support or thanks to  their beliefs. Through such supports, many of them were able to cope with the traumas in a successful way, although some of them experienced post traumatic stress disorder.

In treating psychological disorders, many resources show that, psychotherapy, medication, social support, occupational therapy, art therapy, sport and healthy life, religion, taking responsibility, powerful family ties, work life, meditation, qualified sleep cycle, breathing exercises and humor play an important role. By using these methods, victims can cope with trauma.

Conclusion: It is the Same Old Story

Sexual abuse and many other types of violence have been used as a weapon of war in modern world against people regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, religion and so on. The aim of using these derogatory methods is to  harm the personality of victims and to award (!) the perpetrator by motivating them to difficult war conditions.

This method was used 30 years ago in Bosnia and Iraq, and it is still being used in Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Syria. As a result, thousands of women have been raped, gave birth, experienced miscarriage, and committed suicide. It is a reality that, as long as there are violence, abuses, and war, the number of women as victims of war, physical and sexual violencewill exist too.

To prevent and terminate these unfair situations from happening, we need to speak up collectively and listen to these heroes and survivors carefully. We should be their voices. We should not forget that sexual abuse and violence are war crimes and we need to struggle for the punishment of perpetrators in a severe way.


[1]‘‘Grafiklerle: Suriye'de 8. yılına giren savaş’’, BBC NEWS, https://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-dunya-43414137
[2] Türkiye’deki Suriyeli Sayısı, Mülteciler Derneği, https://multeciler.org.tr/turkiyedeki-suriyeli-sayisi/
[4] ‘‘Suriyeli Kadınlar,Bitmeyen Acılar, Kaybolmayan Umutlar’’, İHH,
[5] Suriyeli Kadınlar: Bitmeyen Acılar, Kaybolmayan Umutlar, İHH, http://insamer.com/tr/suriyeli-kadinlar-bitmeyen-acilar-kaybolmayan-umutlar_190.html