Syrian rights groups warn of increasing violence against women

ISTANBUL - A coalition of Syrian rights groups, supported by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, warned of spiraling violence against women in Syria.

The coalition called for an end to impunity for those who commit these atrocities in a written intervention to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

The international rights groups reported on how Syrian women have increasingly become military targets and been used as weapons of war in violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and key international principles pertaining to the protection of women in times of conflict, as the 25th session of the HRC started on March 3.

"The HRC should clearly and firmly call upon the (UN) Security Council to initiate a genuine process of accountability in Syria; perpetrators of international crimes in Syria have severely impacted the lives of Syrian women and created a context ripe for all forms of violence against women," said the organizations.

“Member states in the Council should support a gender sensitive, Syrian-led transitional justice process and take urgent measures to address critical need for protection of women and rehabilitation of victims".

According to the coalition’s statement, women represent a high proportion of casualties during military operations and are deliberately targeted by snipers’ shots. They are also exposed to torture and sexual harassment when detained at the hands of government forces and armed groups.

The number of persons killed in Syria since 2011 is estimated by the United Nations to be over 100,000, including more than 10,000 women, over 3,000 of whom are under the age of 18. Killings have mainly occurred during indiscriminate or deliberate shelling and scud missile attacks, due to the use of heavy artillery and snipers.

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