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Syrian ex-prisoners recall rape, 417 girls still held

'We should not forget and get them out.'

Syrian women who once languished in government-controlled prisons speak about torture and rape at the hands of government guards and investigators, pleading for help hoping to raise awareness of what is going on in government prisons.

Assad's government, however, denies allegations of systemic torture.

Girls rape

AHY, who was imprisoned for six months from 2015 through 2016 in a prison in Homs run by the Syrian government, told the Anadolu news agency that she faced torture and as a nurse was prevented from providing medical assistance to those who opposed the government.

"They raped teenage girls without showing mercy. We could do nothing. They tortured me and my elder sister in various ways," AHY said.

She lamented that Syria's society alienates female former prisoners.

"It is the most difficult thing to be a woman in Syria."

Narrating her life story, AHY said she took refuge in Turkey a year and a half ago with her three children, leaving her pro-regime husband behind.

Electric chair

Another former prisoner, LA, who was jailed for nine years during the rule of Hafez al-Assad, the father of Bashar al-Assad, said there has been no end to the ordeal.

Saying she was jailed for opposing the regime, LA, a law faculty graduate, recounted her torture in prison.

"The beatings and torture never stopped. They put me in an electric chair. I was also beaten while lying on the ground."

Residing in Turkey for four years, LA also mentioned the violence and oppression in regime prisons.

"Women there are dying every day. There are scores of women in prisons.

"We should not forget and get them out."

Conscience Convoy

On Tuesday, the International Conscience Convoy, which describes itself as the "voice of oppressed women in Syria," embarked on a three-day journey with 55 buses from Istanbul's Yenikapi Square.

They held a final rally to mark International Women's Day in Hatay, which borders Syria, after making stops in the Turkish cities of Izmit, Sakarya, Ankara and Adana.

Women from over 50 countries, including Syria, Chile, Palestine, Iraq, England, Brazil, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kuwait and Qatar, addressed a large crowd at a fairground in Antakya district.

More than 6,700 women, including 417 young girls, are still being held in prisons run by the Syrian government, according to a statement by the Conscience Convoy.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad government cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

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