The US-based group said it had recorded 20 incidents from interviews inside and outside Syria with eight victims, including four women, and more than 25 other people with knowledge of sexual abuse -- including medical workers, former detainees, army defectors, and women’s rights activists.
“Sexual violence in detention is one of many horrific weapons in the Syrian government’s torture arsenal and Syrian security forces regularly use it to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW. “The assaults are not limited to detention facilities -- government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps.” Cases were reported all around Syria, but most of all in Homs province, an epicenter of the revolt.
HRW quoted a man who said he had been held in the Political Security branch in Latakia in a cell with over 70 other people. He said young boys were treated worse than adults, brought back to the cell raped and with their fingernails pulled out.
“One boy came into the cell bleeding from behind. He couldn’t walk. It was something they just did to the boys. We would cry for them,” the man said. HRW said many of the assaults were in circumstances in which commanding officers knew or should have known the crimes, such as electric shocks to genitalia, were taking place.
In another face-to-face interview a woman from the Karm al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Homs city which was overrun by Assad’s troops said she heard security forces and shabiha militia rape her neighbors while she hid in her apartment in March..”