The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2019/280) issued on 29 March 2019.

As a result of ongoing insecurity, obtaining reliable data on conflict-related sexual violence in the Syrian Arab Republic is challenging. Nevertheless, credible information in 2018 confirmed that sexual violence, particularly early and/or forced marriage, continues to affect women and girls in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The fear of sexual violence, particularly in the context of abduction or detention, is a significant concern raised by women, girls, men and boys. Conditions in camps for internally displaced persons pose a high risk, in particular for women and girls, who also face the risk of abduction. According to the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the use of sexual violence during arrest (of women and/or girls residing in the home of the targeted male), during detention (males and females) and at checkpoints is routine. In 2018, the Commission also received allegations of members of extremist groups imposing “medieval forms of punishment” on men accused of homosexuality. The United Nations received reports of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by Government forces and their allied militias against both women and men during arrest, detention and at checkpoints. In several areas of the country, early and forced marriage is used as a coping or protective mechanism. Barriers to accessing services include the fear of stigmatization, shame, social isolation and verbal abuse, in addition to structural challenges such as the distance to service delivery points, the lack of transportation and family restrictions. Furthermore, formal justice systems are often non-existent outside of Government-controlled areas.

Recommendation

I urge all parties to the conflict, including the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, to immediately cease the perpetration of sexual violence. I encourage all parties to the conflict to proactively facilitate the meaningful participation of women in all relevant peace processes and peace negotiations and any future transitional justice mechanisms, and to comprehensively address conflict-related sexual violence in any agreements. I also urge all security forces operating in the Syrian Arab Republic to cooperate in order to identify missing women and girls and facilitate their return to their families.

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