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New project charts rape in Syria

A new project tracks reports of sexualized violence in Syria, where attacks are usually carried out by regime forces.

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Bodies of people killed by Syrian security forces during protests in Daraa city, stored in a mobile refrigerator, May 4, 2011. (Screengrab)

A Syrian girl remembers being kidnapped and kept in an apartment with other young girls. Each day, people in charge of the units would inject the girls' thighs with an unknown substance, leaving them paralyzed. With the girls unable to move, they were then raped by security forces. In one instance, the girl recounted a soldier burning her genitals with a hot iron. The horrific story is one of many now recorded and posted online by Women Under Siege, an initiative by the Women's Media Center.

Many human rights groups and victims in Syria say that security forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are routinely raping women. In a report by the The Daily Telegraph, men and women describe their experiences being raped by security forces while in jail or during house raids. 

More from GlobalPost: Inside Syria

Women Under Siege is now trying to put a specific time and place on as many attacks as they can. In a new project, the center has created a live, crowdsourced map of rape in Syria. In a post on The Atlantic, Lauren Wolfe, the director of Women Under Siege, said that the project has tracked 117 reports of rape so far. Of those, 80 percent were female victims.The majority of the victims say the attacks were carried out by government forces. 

"The data we have so far suggest sexualized violence is being used as a tool of war, although possibly haphazardly and not necessarily as an organized strategy," Dr. Karestan Koenen, the lead epidemiologist on the mapping project, told The Atlantic. "These reports indicate that post-conflict intervention will need to address the consequences of sexualized violence for victims."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120711/new-project-charts-rape-syria