« Syrian Military Stepping Up Bombardment of Damascus Neighborhoods? | Main | US Pledges Help to France Against Al Qaeda Rebels in Mali »

Avoiding Rape in Syria Top Concern of Women Refugees

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Women in Syria are fleeing their war-torn nation, mostly to escape the threat of sexual violence, according to a report by the International Rescue Committee.

At least half-a-million people have left Syria over the past two years as the Syrian government and rebel forces battle for control of the country.  Another half-million are expected to become refugees in the next six months as the fighting intensifies.

This new study released on Monday is the first to examine reasons why women and girls are anxious about the situation in their homeland, with revelations of gang rapes occurring in front of their relatives or other men.

Officials with the International Rescue Committee, who interviewed refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, say the violence against women includes kidnapping, rape, torture and death.  The group did not assign blame to either the military or opposition forces so as not to take away from the immediate need of dealing with women's problems.

Sexual assault in Syria also carries a stigma as many women are afraid of the shame that will be directed toward them.  As a result, this violence often goes unreported.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio