CRISIS

04.04.13

Rape Being Used as Weapon in Syrian Civil War

New reports cites government troops as being responsible for 90 percent of rapes.

Most of the coverage of the two-year civil war in Syria has focused on the massive scale of civilian deaths, but there’s another crisis that has gone largely unreported: huge numbers of rapes by government forces. The Women Under Siege Project, in connection with Columbia University epidemiologists, the Syrian American Medical Society, and Syrian activists, has documented at least 162 stories involving rape from March 2011 until March 2013. More than 90 percent of these cases involved members of the government forces, and just 1 percent of all cases involved Free Syrian Army soldiers. One woman who works with refugees said, “Syrian families are very conservative, and I always tell them: ‘rape is a way to break a family. The easiest way.’” Around 40 percent of assaults involving women were gang rape. One other statistic: about 20 percent of the cases were rape of men and boys, with 16 percent of those men and boys being raped by multiple attackers.