Sexual violence continues unabated in Syria as a tactic used by the Assad regime and the ISIS extremist group to terrorize, coerce, and control the civilian population, the United Nations has said in a recent report.
The UN Security Council’s report on conflict-related sexual violence was circulated on Thursday and covers the period from January to December 2016.
According to the report, the Assad regime is using sexual violence as a tactic of warfare against opposition areas and activists.
“Women and girls have been most vulnerable in the context of house searches, at checkpoints, in detention facilities, after kidnapping by pro-government forces, and at border crossings,” the UN report said.
“Men and boys have been subjected to sexual violence during interrogations in government run detention centers.”
“In 2016, sexual violence continued to be employed as a tactic of war, with widespread and strategic rapes, including mass rapes, allegedly committed by several parties to armed conflict, mostly in conjunction with other crimes such as killing, looting, pillage, forced displacement and arbitrary detention.”
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for giving due consideration to recognizing conflict-related sexual violence as a form of persecution that may serve as grounds for asylum or refugee status.
Guterres also called for giving consideration to clarifying the legal status of undocumented refugee children, including children conceived as a result of rape, and the right of mothers to confer their nationality upon their children, in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to avoid possible statelessness.
The protection of civilians in armed conflict would be the central theme of the UN Security Council’s work in the coming month, Elbio Rosselli President of the Council for May said earlier this week.
Describing the protection of civilians as an essential theme, Rosselli said that the Council would hold an open debate on sexual violence in armed conflict on 15 May. Sexual violence in conflict is “one of the cruelest, most heinous weapons”, he said, adding that the topic deserved thorough examination as a means to finding ways to eliminate such a horrendous crime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Agencies)