The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) on Tuesday said at least 9,774 women are still detained or forcibly disappeared in Syria, while 16,228 women have been killed, and 93 women have died due to torture, noting that the oppression of women in the different groups’ areas of control perpetuates a state of lack of development, equality, and security.
The report provides an updated data record of the most notable violations committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria against women from March 2011 to March 2022, in connection with the internal armed conflict and in violation of international human rights law.
It provides details of the violations and assaults that took place against women in the areas under the control of the three main controlling forces: the Armed Opposition, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). They all violate international human rights law, noting that violations against women are considered an obstacle to achieving development, equality, and a transition towards democracy and peace. These crimes also instill fear and insecurity in women and impede their ability to engage in basic activities such as work, movement, education, and to participate in political and social activities.
The report documents that, between March 2011 and March 2021, at least 16,228 women (adult female) died at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria. Of this total, Syrian regime forces killed 11,952, while 977 were killed at the hands of Russian forces, 587 at the hands of ISIS, 77 at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, and 882 at the hands of all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army, while 165 were killed at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, 658 at the hands of the U.S.-led Coalition forces, and 930 at the hands of other parties.
As the report documents, at least 9,774 of the women arrested since March 2011 are still detained or forcibly disappeared at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria as of March 2022. 8,096 of these were detained by Syrian regime forces, 255 by ISIS, 44 by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, 857 by all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army, and 522 by Syrian Democratic Forces. The analysis of data shows that the Syrian regime is responsible for approximately 83% of arrests and enforced disappearances compared to the other parties to the conflict. This, as the report notes, indicates that the Syrian regime deliberately pursues, arrests/detains, and disappears females for multiple motives, in a planned and deliberate manner.
As the report further reveals, at least 93 women were killed due to torture at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria during the same period, with 74 of them killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, 14 at the hands of ISIS, two at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, two at the hands of all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army, and one at the hands of other parties.
The report also documents at least 11,523 incidents of sexual violence against women during the same period, of which the Syrian regime committed 8,013, while ISIS committed 3,487, with 12 others committed by Syrian Democratic Forces, and 11 by all Armed Opposition factions/Syrian National Army. Meanwhile, the report reveals that both the Syrian regime and ISIS have practiced sexual violence as a strategic weapon of war and a tool of torture and revenge against Syrian society.
The report documents many cases of women workers and activists being subjected to multiple types of violence in northeast and northwest Syria.
It added that women involved in the community, political, media, and humanitarian activities paid a heavy price, embodied by many of them being exposed to various types of risks and threats, and to both verbal and physical assault. The report summarizes the most prominent of these practices and violations.
In this context, the report records at least 107 incidents of assault and intimidation against women activists and workers, or against centers for women in connection with their activities, between March 2021 and March 2022, in areas outside the control of the Syrian regime.
The report stresses that these violations have deterred women from actively participating in various fields, including political and media activities, in relation to freedom of opinion and expression, and even publishing on social media pages, especially in relation to criticizing violations of women’s rights.
The report records many cases of persecution and violence against women, which sometimes amounted to killing them, on the grounds of gender, mainly related by the misnomer of “honor crimes”. The report notes that these attacks and crimes clearly reflect the fragility of the legal and judicial structure regulating women’s rights. From March 2021 until March 2022, the report records at least 24 murders of women at the hands of their families or partners, most of which were committed under the pretext of “honor” or due to women’s refusal to be forced into marriage, or resulting from being subjected to violence by men.
The report notes that while it is true that armed groups, as non-state parties, cannot formally join the parties to international human rights treaties, they are nonetheless bound to respect basic human rights and by customary international law since these parties effectively control parts of the state’s territory.
The report clearly proves that there are patterns of discrimination against women in a number of practices being perpetrated in Syria that constitute violations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The report stresses that enhancing the role of women and protecting them from violence and violations, including their right to political and media work and freedom of opinion, will reflect positively on the whole of society, as all of this is essential in the pursuit of equality and development.
The report recommends that all parties to the conflict/controlling forces should respect the rules of customary international humanitarian law and the rules of international human rights law, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and should end all forms of discrimination against women.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.