Widespread rape of Syrian boys and men

Male rape and sexual torture widespread in Syria crisis – report

Widespread rape of Syrian boys and men: UNHCR

One man told UNHCR: "When I was in detention in Syria I was tortured in every possible way".

UNHCR's study involved several dozen informants and focus group discussions with some 196 refugees in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, mainly conducted in late 2016.

A study by the United Nations refugee agency found what it calls "shocking evidence" of widespread sexual violence against Syrian men and boys inside Syria and in neighboring countries where they seek asylum.

Those interviewed for the study provided shocking accounts of what they, or others known to them, had experienced.

Victims have accused armed groups within Syria of carrying out mass rapes, with sexual violence often occurring in detention or prison facilities.

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United Nations refugee agency spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, said sexual violence against men and boys inside Syria is practiced by all the combatant groups, who use it as a weapon of war.

Kept naked, he and other detainees were strung up by their hands at night, tortured with electric shocks to their genitals and gang raped by their captors, said UNHCR. "They would come into the cell to violate us, but it was dark - we couldn't see them", said a refugee who the report identified as Tarek.

However, outside Syria, there is a danger of opportunistic abuse in refugee camps or through informal employment opportunities in countries of refuge. "My friend can not leave the job because he needs it for rent and to support his family".

It documents sexual attacks that involved torture and are far more common than previously thought, with victims ranging from as young as 10 to men in their 80's.

Volker Türk, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner, was quoted in the report, saying, "These are most disturbing accounts revealing just how grave the risk of sexual violence has become both for women and girls and, as shown by this recent report, also men and boys".

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He described the current situation for boys and men in the Syria crisis as a "vicious cycle, [with] little help being available, limited outreach to male survivors, inaccessible services, and a culture of silence - all of which reinforce a myth that this problem is rare".

Others reported that employers would refuse to pay wages unless sexual favors were performed.

The study makes a number of recommendations geared towards humanitarian agencies and others involved in working with refugees.

Ahmed*, a refugee living in Lebanon, said his uncle was horrifically raped after he was arrested in Syria.

"After he was released he stopped eating and became alcoholic. He died from kidney failure". These include the need for stronger prevention strategies, better confidentiality arrangements, protection against reprisals, improved survivor care, and strengthened awareness among aid workers.

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