Syrian Road To Justice

In June 2020, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, Syrian feminist organizations: Badael, Dawlaty, Women Now for Development, and the Syrian Female Journalists Network, as well as The Syria Campaign, launched the ‘Syrian Road to Justice’ campaign.

This campaign advocates for greater legal access to justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) perpetrated over the past ten years in the Syrian detention centers, especially for women survivors who face particular barriers to justice.

Survivors of SGBV in detention, and particularly female survivors, are discriminated against within society in multiple ways, from the social, economic and political to both public and private life. They often face a lifetime of trauma, social discrimination (stigma), and gender-based violence (‘honour’ crimes), making most too afraid to seek justice or speak out about their experiences, sometimes even to their families or friends. Some even experience violence and abuse as a result of their actual or perceived attack.

Survivors’ fight for their rights extends beyond the courtroom to every home and street in Syria and beyond. Until survivors are given the care, respect and support they so desperately need, international crimes will continue to go unpunished and basic humanity will fall short.

The campaign works to produce content that contributes to enhancing the access of survivors of SGBV to justice and narrating their experiences and challenges that they face. The Syrian Female Journalists Network (SFJN) has therefore worked to produce this series of blogs written by survivors of gender-based violence (during detention), and/or experts in the field and others interested in the justice and accountability processes in Syria.


Many thought that “her husband cherished her and kept her under his custodianship because he is still detained”. They were not ashamed to ask question like that, (rape) is what really matters to them, and not what I experienced of dignity and freedom deprivation, from searching for bits of food to the simple things that were taken from me such as potable water or using the toilet…

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You are released, so stop talking and repeating
this story – Close on the subject and stop
talking for the sake of your daughters’ future
– Who would marry girls whose mother was
a former detainee?!!).
– you are the one to blame because you were not cautious enough
– You are cheap and you may sell yourself
I hear that daily by people I know or do not know but they heard of my case in a way or another…
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This stigma did not only affect the former female detainees, but also their children, especially girls. One of the detainees told me that she married her daughter at the age of 16 for fear of the society’s view after arresting her and her husband, who was killed under torture, and there was no one left to defend her and her daughter
Many female detainees also talked about their husbands leaving them and how this also affected their daughters and their own reputations…
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Only at al-Assad prison abstaining from committing a murder turns into a noble deed, and the worst thing is that when you are released from detention, you will face a society, which also suffered from al-Assad’s injustice, but will sue you again for a crime that was committed against you, to impose community restrictions on you and complete the unfinished business of your jailor…
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Today, almost five years following my release,I feel I am obliged to present an innocence instrument to prove that no one touched me in the detention center to people I do not know, just because they heard of my arrest.
Apparently, we’ve come out of a small prison into a big prison…
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