Saturday, 27 June 2015

"I must save my life and not risk my family’s safety!”: Untold Stories of Syrian Women Surviving War (Part 1)

"Karima (40) is not the type of Syrian heroine that the mainstream media would like to interview. She did not participate in the Syrian Uprising. She did not lead a demonstration."
 I don't think this is the case. The media is not looking for revolutionaries, it is looking for people who will blame the rebels as much as Assad, to reflect the same sort of balance it imagines it can impose on the conflict. That Assad's has been a war against civilians, not just or even mainly a war against those actively resisting, has been an unfamiliar theme in most press and TV, when they talk about the rest of Syria at all and not only about ISIS.

 "On March 12, 2012, Karima’s life would change forever. Around noon she heard that a mission from the Syrian Army is searching the houses in her neighborhood for armed men. She prayed that they would not take her boys and husband because they were not involved in any military activities. Around 2.00 p.m. the mission entered their apartment asking them to surrender their weapons. Her husband declared that they had no weapons. The officer ordered his fellows to take her husband out. Another officer took her eldest son Mahmmod (18) and he forced him to prostrate himself to Bashar al-Assad photograph in front of his mother and siblings. Then, they commanded Karima and her smaller children (a girl and two boys) to stay inside while they took the father and the son Mahmmod with them. In few minutes, Karima and her children heard gunshots. Karima held herself together because she was worry about the safety of her younger children.
 Her husband’s dead body was left next to their flat door, and her son was left dying on the stairs after they shot him in the head. Karima remembered how his flesh and blood had dispersed and adhered to the walls around him. Her daughter Lama (15) tried to give Mahmmod water before he died because he was muttering “water,” but he could not drink it. Karima told me this with a big sigh that even her son last wishes did not come true: “My daughter came back inside, her hands were covered with Mahmmod’s blood. I kissed her hands and I smelled my son scent.” When the army mission finished investigating the building, they came again to Karima’s apartment. She locked the door. They unlocked it by shooting it.
 It was winter and dark, and Karima, who has no experience in public spaces, felt scared and decided to stay the night at one of her neighbor’s houses. When they entered her neighbor’s house, they saw another dead body of a stranger. Karima learned that the regime forces killed all men in her neighborhood, and they randomly threw all the dead bodies into neighbor’s houses. They do so to ensure that the rest of the families are terrorized and humiliated and other anti-regime regions would look at this example of consequences for rebelling against the regime. Once again Lama covered the dead body with a sheet, so the small children would stop looking at the body exploded by bullets. Karima continued her story:
 At 6:30 in the morning we left the neighbor’s houses, the regime forces were shooting toward our feet and screaming at us to go back. I gestured with my hand that it is impossible to go back. We kept running through the shooting, and sometimes we hid in some buildings, but there were dead bodies in every building. When we passed our neighborhood, we met armed rebels. I expressed my disappointment with the rebels because they did not confront and fight the regime troops. But the rebel leader told me to thank my god because no one touched my daughter or me and we had escaped with our honor. He said in the nearby neighborhood most women were raped."

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