Abused Syrian Women Are Not Objects

15 Aug

.قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم : أوصيكم بالنساء خيرا


Recently, there has been this hideous new “suggestion” by several so called “Sheikhs” and scholars, urging Muslim men to marry Syrian women who have been raped or sexually abused by regime’s forces. As disgusting as this may sound, it actually has been occurring on ground in Syria and in refugee camps in surrounding countries in order to “nestor” on our heroic women. Whether or not this proposal was first cited by Arour or else, the cycle will not stop but it has to be spoken of and awareness must spread amongst women both abused and not. Objectifying our women and treating them as though they are a stain of shame that has to be hidden by pathetically arranged marriages is not a solution to the crimes being committed nor will it “help them overcome their  plight”. Do note that in Syria, there are over 1,500 cases of sexual abuse documented since the beginning of the uprising up till now, but the numbers are much, much higher. 

Syrian women who have been victims to sexual abuse face a lot of challenges, primarily because of the men in their own family and secondarily because of the society that dehumanizes abused women and treat them as “responsible” rather than “victimized”. Most of the gang rapes and other means of sexual abuse, such as groping, occur during raid campaigns launched by the regime’s forces and Shabiha (thugs) against villages and towns; assaults against women arbitrarily detained in regime’s dungeons are very common too. In the suburbs of Syrian cities, several reports said that raped women are being locked up in rooms by their own families, putting them out of the sight of other closely related relatives and neighbours. Sometimes, the crimes exceed isolating these women. The hierarchy of men dominating the household, starting from the father and ending up in teen-age brothers, end up slaughtering their own abused sisters/cousins in order to wash away the “shame she brought to the family”. These honour crimes probably are rarely heard of, but they happen in many villages and amongst the uneducated, impoverished fraction of our society.

In the cities, the stories are quite different. Although several abused women face the same fate as those in the suburbs, most of them survive and flee their houses and districts, heading to any other asylum along with their relatives/children, if any. Do note that abuse has not only targeted women, but also girls as young as 10. In Damascus, Homs, and other areas, these women were then offered for marriages to “volunteering young men who sympathize with their sisters”. Many of them were then forced to get married in such a demeaning, purely sympathetic mean, only because they were abused.

Because of the ongoing conflict in Syria, there are no psychologists or specialists Syrian women, whether inside or outside Syria, could consult. Being a refugee outside the country pours in more probability in finding a specialist but it still is a mere one. Sometimes the specialists are available, but the family of the victim itself stands in the face of the woman’s/girl’s choice to consult a psychologist, since many families in Syria consider “shrinks” for lunatics and disturbed, ill people. Many of the victims, specially minors, are in massive need for plastic surgeries to repair the damage caused to the genitals, particularly those gang raped. These surgeries usually are very costly and few doctors offered to help these women/minors for free. An example of such cases could be portrayed in the following excerpt from Human Right Watch “Sexual Assault in Detention” report [published on June 15, 2012]:

“There were around seven girls [who were brought to] … the field hospital that had been killed. Some of them had been stabbed. You could see the knife marks. If they resisted they were beaten, you could see the marks. They were not wearing clothes on the bottom half, and above they were torn … There were five girls that came that were alive, that had been raped … They were blue and bruised … You could tell from their wounds that they were raped, most of them were girls (virgins) not women so it was obvious, they had blood running down their legs. We would give them a shot … to stop the bleeding and I would sew them up below [if their skin was torn]. I gave one three stiches, another four stiches. One girl was cut from front to back … I used six stiches to sew her together.” – Farah speaking from Asheera district, Homs.

After undergoing such kind of abuse committed against Syrian women , who are the most vulnerable (after children) in this conflict, they must not be objectified the way men aren’t when they undergo similar sexual abuse. Both female and male victims of sexual assaults must be given extensive psychological treatment in order to allow them first to accept what has happened to them and second to overcome the trauma and move on with their lives. Forcing a female victim to be married solely because “she was raped” is utterly rejected and must be condemned by Islamic scholars, not galvanized by them. Surgeries that would repair the physical damage caused by the assaults should be granted to the female victims as well, whether by charities or by independent donators, as most of the families are impoverished and displaced themselves and cannot afford the high costs. Also, the abusers must be brought to justice, even if it seemingly is impossible in the current time; the recounts of the victims must be documented and used later on to investigate such crimes that have been occurring across Syria. Offering a secure environment for the victims will gradually allow them to open up and speak about their stories to counselor, human rights activists, or even court.

Our raped and abused women must be hailed as heroes the way similarly abused men are. Our mothers and sisters in Syria are sacrificing everything they own for the sake of the revolution: their husbands, brothers, sons, houses, properties, money, time, and now their bodies. Your mother/sister does not deserve to be treated in such a dishonouring mean because of being forcibly victimized. No one chooses to become a victim, exactly the way no one chooses to become a detainee in regime’s dungeons. 

[Note that this is just portraying my thoughts and a glimpse of the reality on ground. The subject is much broad and there are many aspects to it but this is the narrowest it could get.]

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Syria


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