There's more to the Syria conflict than rebels vs. President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Civilians in Syria are suffering from rape and other forms of sexual violence, the International Rescue Commission (IRC) said. The IRC released a 28-page report today describing numerous hideous attacks, including the rape of a nine-year-old girl, a man whose genitals were destroyed by attackers, and a father who shot his own daughter to prevent her from the "disgrace" of being raped, Bloomberg News reported.
It's not clear who is behind the sexual attacks.The IRC says that many women have been attacked in their homes by "armed men" without further identifying those responsible, Reuters reported. Both the rebels and the government troops have been accused of human rights abuses in the past.
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In any case, the rape problem has caused thousands of people to flee Syria, contributing to a major refugee crisis, the IRC announced in a press release. More than 600,000 Syrians so far have fled to neighboring countries that are already over-burdened with refugees. The UN says that number could reach 1 million at the current exodus rate of 3,000 a day.
"Many of these women have experienced rape and torture in Syria, but as refugees [they] can't find the support they need to heal their physical and emotional scars – let alone provide food and shelter for their families," Sanj Srikanthan, IRC-UK emergency field director," told the Guardian.