Rape a 'Weapon of War' in Syria

And a main reason people are fleeing the country, activist group says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2013 7:32 AM CST
Rape a 'Weapon of War' in Syria
A Syrian refugee woman walks with her two kids at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, near the Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Rape is "a significant and disturbing feature of the Syrian civil war," and a major reason refugees are fleeing the country, according to a report released today by a US-based activist group. The International Rescue Committee interviewed refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, and found that many identified rape as the main reason they left Syria, the AFP reports. The group also heard reports of women being kidnapped, tortured, and killed.

"Many women and girls relayed accounts of being attacked in public or in their homes, primarily by armed men," the report said. "These rapes, sometimes by multiple perpetrators, often occur in front of family members." These women then fled because they feared retribution from their attackers, or from "shamed" family members, but the group warns that refugee camps themselves are "unsafe" and hotbeds of domestic violence. The conflict has now sent more than 600,000 refugees into neighboring countries. (More rape stories.)

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