Amal was hesitant to talk about her experience of detention in the Assad regime’s prisons.
The 23-year-old joined the Syrian revolution from the outset despite being from Hama, a city renowned for its brutal massacre in 1982. She worked as a demonstration organizer and transferred news to the revolutionary coordination bodies, taking advantage of her fiance’s position in the regime’s army to obtain information and transfer it to fighters in the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
"I was very cautious in each activity I did because I knew exactly the punishment I might face if I was caught,” Amal said.
However, one day Amal forgot her mobile phone in the cafeteria of the English literature college where she was studying. One of her colleagues – a regime loyalist – found the phone and discovered messages between her and members of the coordination groups. First she was blackmailed for money, but Amal was later arrested after the phone was handed over to state intelligence on January 1, 2013.
With tears in her eyes, Amal explained what happened after her arrest: “From the first day, the investigator used [a] cigarette to burn my body as a method to get me to tell the names of activists in the coordination and places of members of the Free Syrian Army, he was laughing and said that my beauty needed some deformation.”
According to Amal, the investigators then started to beat her. The torture lasted for more than a week, when the investigator tied Amal’s legs to two chairs and raped her in front of other soldiers.
“I don’t know how many times or how many people raped me, I was in deep pain, I was then transferred to the prison’s hospital and after that the investigator stopped torturing me.”
When a girl Amal had befriended in prison was released, she travelled to meet Amal’s mother where she told her about the torture and rape. But instead of revealing the truth to Amal’s brothers and uncles, her mother told them she died in prison.
Amal was freed via a prisoner swap at the beginning of 2014. She had no place to go after her release, as her fiance had left her only a week after her arrest and her family believed she was dead.
Without any other options, she left the country and travelled to Turkey.
After arriving in Istanbul, Amal spoke to her mother by phone, where she was told she would be killed by her brothers and uncles if they discovered she was raped in prison.
Amal now lives in shared accommodation with a number of other Syrian girls and works in a sewing workshop for 700 Turkish lira ($240) a month.