The Telegraph interviews * “Rami,” an activist helping Syrians flee to Jordan. Rami described how one night he was forced to flee, leaving his wife, “Hadija,” and their five children at the family home in Dera’a. Hadija said that 10 shabiha militiamen entered her bedroom and tore at her nightgown while photographing and videotaping her with their cell phones.
She was aided by neighbors who heard her screams, she said. Four of the shabiha returned a week later. “Tell your husband that we have seen your breasts and we have stripped you,” she described them as saying. “Next time we are going to rape you and we film it and air it everywhere.” Shabiha men treated other women similarly, Hadija said. “It became known that the sister, wife, or daughter of anyone who was fighting might be raped, and many were,” she said. “Now those who are wanted take their wives and daughters with them.”
Hadija goes on to say that while rape is happening, “it is not something people talk about. Women who were raped can no longer get married. Their life went like that,” she said, snapping her fingers together. A Syria researcher for the global campaign group Avaaz told The Telegraph: “We know of cases where husbands have divorced their wives, casting them from their homes, just because they were taken to a detention center and so might have been raped.” The dates of the reported assaults are unknown. Because Syrian government officials currently refuse to allow access to journalists, researchers, and aid workers, Women Under Siege cannot independently verify this report of sexualized violence in Syria.
* Telegraph Interviews Rami 29, May 2010