The Chief Mufti, or Islamic scholar, of Syria has given religious permission to soldiers to rape the female relatives of rebels.
Sheikh Abd al-Rahman Ali al-Dala, aid to the chief mufti of Syria, told a radio station that supports Syrian president Bashar Assad that Syrian army soliders can “marry” unmarried and married women while fighting the rebels, including the sisters and mothers of rebel fighters, without an official marriage agreement. The rape, he said, is punishment for not reporting the rebels to the government. The Sheikh backed the pronouncement with his religious authority.
Captured soldiers and captains testified, before being put to death, that rape has long been common practice without any official permission. Victims include women dressed in full Muslim veils and cloaks. Some choice women are reportedly taken to senior commanders.
The rebel troops have also publicized religious permission for raping women.
Thousands of Syrian women have been raped during the battles, human rights groups report. The Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) put the number at 6,000, BBC reported in November. A spokeswoman for the group said victims are often stigmatized and forced their leave their homes, adding to the thousands that have been left homeless by Syrian warfare.
Hundreds of women have been arrested, “disappeared,” and tortured in state facilities, EMHRN told BBC.
"They are being used as privilege, not in the sense that they are favored, but because sometimes of their relationship to opposition members or government-related members," said EMHRN spokeswoman Hayet Zeghiche.
"They are deliberately targeted because of political issues and also because they are vulnerable victims."
The Syrian conflicts have left an estimated 130,000 dead. United Nations peace talks are set to take place in Geneva in January, with representatives present from the Syrian government and opposition.