At Least 67 Incidents of Women Targeted Due to Their Work in Northwest and Northeast of Syria Between March 2020 and March 2021
(Link below to download full report)
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reveals in its report released today, marking International Women’s Day, that nearly 9,264 women in Syria are still arrested/ forcibly disappeared, and that women have been targeted due to their work, noting that at least 67 incidents of women being targeted due to their work have been documented in northwest and northeast of Syria between March 2020 and March 2021.
The 17-page report notes numerous egregious violations against Syrian women and violations of women’s right to work, pointing out that over the past 10 years in Syria, since the beginning of the popular uprising in March 2011 and subsequently, after this developed into an internal armed conflict from July 2012, violations against women in Syria have received insufficient attention from the UN and international community, particularly bearing in mind the horrific extent, the intensity and the vast range of different types of violations in this category, including grave violations, some of which have amounted to crimes against humanity.
As the report reveals, while it’s true that the whole of Syrian society has suffered from the terrible effects of the violations perpetrated against its members, and that, in most cases, men constitute the largest proportion of these victims, some types of violations inflicted on Syrian women have a grave impact on women generally and their position in society; these effects are further exacerbated by women also being severely affected by the vast extent of the violations perpetrated against men, including killing, arrest and enforced disappearance. It has been noticed a radical change in the roles of women who have come to assume the roles of male and female caregiver in their families, with women themselves being subjected to terrible violations.
The report provides a record of the most notable violations perpetrated against women as detailed by the SNHR database between March 2011 and March 2021, with the report documenting the deaths of at least 16,104 women (adult female) at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria; of this total, Syrian regime forces killed 11,923, while 969 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 878 at the hands of the Syrian National Army froces/ Armed Opposition factions, while 161 were killed at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, 658 at the hands of the US-led Coalition forces, and 851 at the hands of other parties.
In terms of arrest/ detention or enforced disappearance, at least 9,264 women are still arrested or forcibly disappeared at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria since March 2011, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights database; 8,029 of these were detained by Syrian regime forces, 255 by ISIS, 43 by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, 761 by the Syrian National Army forces/ Armed Opposition factions, and 176 by Syrian Democratic Forces.
As the report reveals, at least 92 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.
The report also documents at least 11,523 incidents of sexual violence against women, of which the Syrian regime committed 8,013, including 879 incidents that occurred in detention centers, while ISIS committed 3,487, factions of the Armed Opposition committed 11 incidents of sexual violence, and 12 others were committed at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces.
The report adds that in addition to the aforementioned grave violations, women have suffered from many other types of violations. This report, issued to coincide with International Women’s Day which falls annually on March 8, sheds light on a specific aspect of the violations and harassment faced by women working in public affairs. The report focuses on gender-based persecution and derision targeting some women involved in public affairs and working in political, media and relief activities who are forced by harassment into giving up their work. In addition to facing this harassment, the report adds, the harsh economic and social conditions have forced many women to work in unsuitable fields and working environments, through which many have been subjected to many harassment, sex discrimination, in addition to imposing severe restrictions on their freedom of movement and clothing.
In this context, the report documents at least 67 incidents of assault and intimidation against women activists and workers, or against centers for women in connection with their activities, between March 2020 and March 2021, in each of the governorates of Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa, Hasaka and Deir Ez-Zour, in areas outside the control of the Syrian regime, in areas under the control of each of the following forces: The Syrian National Army forces/ Armed Opposition factions, Syrian Democratic Forces, and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. It should be noted that the violations and practices in this category perpetrated in areas under the control of the Syrian regime are not included in this report.
The report includes accounts and interviews which SNHR conducted with a number of women activists and workers in different fields who were exposed to one or more of the violations covered in the report, providing 11 accounts, which were obtained directly through speaking with the witnesses rather than from open sources.
The report notes that Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, Syrian Democratic Forces, Syrian National Army and ISIS-affiliated cells have targeted women in a discriminatory manner due to their work, with the 67 incidents distributed according to the party responsible for them; 23 of these were at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, 14 by extremist cells (which are believed belong to ISIS), nine at by the Syrian National Army Forces/ Armed Opposition factions, four by Syrian Democratic Forces, and 17 at the hands of unidentified parties.
The report also includes charts showing the distribution of these incidents across the governorates in which the incidents occurred and according to the type of incidents.
The report concludes by noting that while all the forces involved in the Syrian conflict have committed many egregious violations against Syrian women, some of which amount to crimes against humanity, the Syrian regime remains the most prolific perpetrator of these violations, and the main party responsible for them as the party which wields absolute control over the governmental system.
The report notes that on this occasion it has addressed only the phenomenon of harassment and threats to women on a discriminatory basis in areas outside the control of the Syrian regime (the areas of the Syrian regime and its practices in this field were not included), and stresses the dangerous situation facing women subjected to threats and harassment of women on a discriminatory basis in the areas controlled by each of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, Syrian Democratic Forces, Syrian National Army and cells affiliated with ISIS.
The report recommends that all parties to the conflict should end all types of violations against Syrian women, in particular the most flagrantly egregious crimes, end all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, and open the way for women to engage in various aspects of social, political, economic and media life.
The report also calls on all parties to the conflict to follow up on the information and testimonies included in this report, to prosecute those involved in the violations, to work to end the harassment and threats against women, to provide various forms of psychological and security support to women and to support their efforts in rehabilitation, combating extremism and violence, and building peace.
The report further recommends that humanitarian organizations and donor parties should support organizations concerned with women’s affairs, including those providing services for rehabilitation, social care, shelter, psychological support, and family counseling, and to consider establishing more care and protection homes for battered women and those who have been ostracized by their families and communities.
The report concludes by calling on the international community to effectively work to accelerate the political transition process towards democracy, which would contribute to promoting the basic rights of women in the Syrian society.