The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Nearly 240 civilian women killed in 2023 | Syrian women: usurped rights and ongoing sufferings

With all conflicting powers in Syria continuing to kill Syrians and force them to displace, Syrian women have been facing combatable challenges, after having been robbed of their identities, lost many of their beloved and given up their dreams and ambition in the war-torn country.


The Syrian regime and opposition factions have never hesitated when it came to violate women rights, where Syrian women have been affected the most by the protracted conflict which left them struggling with fear, hanger and poverty. Many Syrian women are now dreaming only to get bread to feed their hungry children and find a tent or a place protecting them from the extremely hot weather and freezing temperatures with disappointment having dominated them, since they have experienced many tragedies and incidents in which innocent civilians were arbitrary arrested, forcibly disappeared, tortured and killed for defending their believes, freedom and dignity.


The United Nations has described the war in Syria as the “most violent war in the current century,” where the war cost Syria over 1.2 trillion USD by March 2021.


It seems that the war in Syria will not come to an end very soon, and this fact has been reaffirmed by the Syrian regime’s president, Bashar Al-Assad, who stated “the conflict in Syria, which is besieged by foreign powers, will never stop before this siege is lifted in order to construct a new homeland.” However, he turned his back on the conditions which must be provided to achieve this step, and they are manifested mainly in applying a comprehensive-political transition and holding fair presidential election which the national opposition, which still believes in the legitimacy of the Syrian Revolution and adherent to its fundamentals, can participate in.


For nearly 13 years after the onset of the Syrian Revolution, Syrian women have not given up and showed desperate resistance to reach their legitimate rights and demands, including freedom, dignity and living in a democratic country, although they endured significant injustice, oppression and starvation practiced by the Syrian regime and its affiliates to obliterate the identity of Syrian women and wipe their dreams out.


Since early 2023, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has documented the death of 239 women in all zones of influence across Syria; they are distributed as follows:


  • One died under torture in a regime prison.


  • 11 killed in indiscriminate gunfire and infightings.


  • Two killed by jihadists.


  • Ten killed by rebels.


  • Eight killed in unknown circumstances.


  • 23 killed by explosions of old ordnance.


  • 28 killed in gunfire and bombardment by regime forces.


  • 77 were murdered.


  • Ten died of poor health conditions.


  • Six killed in Russian airstrikes.


  • One died under torture in a prison of an opposition faction.


  • One killed by ISIS.


  • One killed in Israeli strikes.


  • Five killed in bombardment and airstrikes by Turkish forces.


  • One killed in gunfire by Turkish Jandarma.


  • 38 killed in the explosion of landmines and IEDs.


  • Six shot dead by unidentified gunmen.


  • Three killed by SDF.


  • 11 extrajudicially executed.


  • Six killed in other circumstances.



Fragile social situation


Syrian women have endured tragic situation due to the protracted war which is still ragging for nearly 13 years, where many of them have found themselves forced to provide for their families, after having lost breadwinners. Accordingly, women engaged on labour market where they have been forced by employers to do hard work and work for long hours for low wages, exploiting their dire living conditions and poverty; let alone the harassment and sexual exploitation by some employers.


There is no doubt that women in Syria are the most fragile segment of the society, and they endured gender-based violence practiced by the other segments of the Syrian society, regime authorities and even by their families.


Moreover, the regime has exploited Syrian women and used them during the armed conflict with its enemies, violating all international conventions related to the rights of women, as well as marginalising them. However, Syrian women remain clinging to the hope of change and dream to turn their homeland to a safe place hosting institutions that respect them and protect them from all forms of violence and exploitation.



Ongoing violence


SOHR statistics compiled in that report, regarding the female fatalities in Syria in 2023, reflects the considerable violence which Syrian women endured on all levels, including the cultural, economical, psychological, sexual and social situations. Women have been used as a bargaining chip to settle narrow political calculations and combating enemies, where they have been fallen victims of systematic human trafficking by gangs and the ruling power. Human rights organisations and UN authorities have been all along warning against the unwelcome repercussions of that heinous crime on the community cohesion.


On the other hand, the latest earthquake which hit Syria in February and devastated large spaces in north Syria has badly impacted the lifestyle and stability of hundreds of Syrian women, who have become themselves and found themselves forced to shoulder the responsibilities of their families, after having lost their fathers, brothers and husbands. Sadly, the international community and ruling authorities have turned blind eye to the quake-hit Syrian women and offered them no support, which has exacerbated the situation further.



Illiteracy and dropouts


Syria’s war has not only affected the living conditions of Syrian women, but also it was a major reason behind creating an entire generation of illiterate girls, where many have been forced to drop out of schools and others have failed to attain education, because of the fierce military battles and indiscriminate bombardment which targeted schools, universities and educational facilities. Also, many families have failed to secure school supplies and required equipment and textbooks for their children to enrol in schools, because of the prohibitively high prices and lack of those supplies, especially in besieged and isolated areas.


For nearly 13 years of the conflict, most of the Syrian girls have been deprived from education, so we, at SOHR as a human rights organisation, have had to highlight this cause and appeal to the UN authorities to exert extra efforts to reach a solution that could potentially put an end to this worrying phenomenon.


As nations can be raised only with the will of educated people, we renew our appeal to the United Nations to grant too much attention to the situation of women in Syria and accelerate rehabilitating schools and infrastructure in order to ensure a safe return of students to schools.



Arbitrary arrests and forcible disappearance


At a time when international organisations have not prioritised addressing the cause of female detainees in prisons of the Syrian regime and opposition factions, thousands of women have been struggling with tragic situation in prisons and detention centres, paying precious price for defending their freedom and their revolution, where many have endured horrific practices, while some other have been tortured to death. Even those who have survived prisons could not escape from unjust judgment by the society that assigns the responsibility for “violating morals and values” to these women.


Female detainees were subjected to brutal torture in regime prisons and detention centres in particular where guards have threatened and intentionally harmed their children to exert pressure on them to acquiesce to their orders.



Discriminating laws


Although Syrian women have fought to force regime authorities to pass scores of laws supposed to protect their rights, the war has proved that those laws were “discriminating.” In the meantime, the masculinity and patriarchal ideology and obsolete traditions, which most of the segments of Syrian society embrace, have complicated the situation further.


With the escalating violence and tightening security grip, Syrian women have suffered greatly and chose to keep silent, when they failed to defend their rights.



SOHR calls for accountability


As there is no workable solution for the Syrian crisis looming in the horizon still with all conflicting powers seeking only for achieving the greatest possible interests and gains, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) renew its calls upon all international organisations to interfere immediately to enable the Syrian women to gain dignity, respect and their rightful place in society be rehabilitated.


We, at SOHR, stress that the reconstruction of Syria cannot be accomplished without the participation of women who are a major pillar of the Syrian society. However, the chances to save and rehabilitate the remaining Syrian society remains little, so the United Nations and human rights organisations must pay more attention to ease of the sufferings of Syrians and work on saving them from poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, hunger, displacement and uncertain future.




The Syrian Observatory would like to point out that all information and figures mentioned in this report have been documented and updated until the date of publication, December 24.