At Least 27,464 Females Have Been Killed and at Least 10,026 Females Are Still Detained or Forcibly Disappeared
Syrian women’s fundamental rights – whether social, security-related, economic, health or psychological – have deteriorated severely at every level following the Syrian regime’s brutal retaliation against Syrian society in response to the outbreak of the popular uprising for democracy in Syria in March 2011. Whilst it’s true that all parts of Syrian society have been affected by the repercussions of the conflict, women have been the worst affected due to their responsibilities and their social and health status. Women have also been subjected to various types of violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest, torture, executions, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, enforced displacement, siege and denial of health care and basic services. Many of these violations, especially killing, torture and enforced disappearance, are of such a vast magnitude that the country now suffers the worst rates globally.
Syrian women and girls have not been the victims of the conflict in any indirect way, but have been directly and systematically targeted by all parties to the conflict, primarily the Syrian regime, whose crimes are on such a massive scale that it is far ahead of any other perpetrator in the conflict by a massive margin. Women have been targeted for many reasons, including their effective contribution to social, humanitarian, political, human rights, relief, medical and media work, or simply because they are females, with the objective of marginalizing and breaking them, and to suppress society and intimidate them through the horrendous consequences of opposing the state authorities. Women are a particular target due to the fundamental role of women in the Syrian society linked to societal norms and beliefs. In addition, women have suffered other types of violations, including constraints and restrictions on work, education and clothing, as well as access to appropriate health care in areas controlled by ISIS and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. They have also suffered from forced conscription in areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, as well as persecution, intimidation, and blackmail in areas under the control of factions of the Armed Opposition. Many women have also suffered from the loss of the main breadwinners in their families, as well as living in dreadful living conditions in light of displacement, and from early and forced marriage.
Fadel Abdul Ghani, Chairman of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, states:
“Syrian women have played a pivotal role in monitoring and documenting human rights violations in Syria, bearing the arduous, long and consecutive hours of work, seeing the bodies and details of the victims and speaking with hundreds of survivors. The accuracy of women’s work and research, as well as their extraordinary patience have been evident in the SNHR’s database, which would not have been of this quality without their efforts.”
The worst aspect of the Syrian women’s suffering has been the failure of the international community to protect them, to stop the killings, torture and detention, and to end the targeting of the health and service facilities that provide basic services and the foundations of a decent life. The flagrant violations against women and girls in Syria call for both the United Nations member states and the Security Council to implement prevention and protection measures to shield women from the consequences of the conflict. It is essential that these bodies assume their responsibilities towards Syria’s women and put an end to the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of multiple crimes and force them to abide by the rules of international law, which clearly provide for giving women particular protection and care. In Syria’s case, however, these rules have been completely disregarded amid the relentless, flagrant violence and brutality of the Syrian regime.