In one of the recently liberated neighbourhoods of western Raqqa, a prison used by ISIS militants has been found. It is suspected that the prison was used solely for women as women’s shoes and other belongings were discovered inside. There is evidence that women in this prison were exposed to torture in the gallows as ropes used for hanging, a torture technique commonly used by ISIS, were seen.
Women in Raqqa have suffered in unprecedented ways while under ISIS rule due to the terrorist group’s strong discrimination against them. ISIS’ discriminatory attitude towards women has compounded the already deplorable conditions in which civilians in Raqqa are living due to ISIS’ harsh rule and the ongoing battle over the city between the SDF and ISIS.
Severe restrictions have been imposed on the lives of women with regards to social life, education and clothing. Their lives have been reduced to almost nothing as they have been even barred from leaving their homes to meet neighbours and friends
Women in the city have been forced to wear black clothing against their will and the punishment for not abiding by this rule is lashes. As for adultery, the sentence has been death. The grotesque punishment of women getting bitten by ISIS members with iron teeth in their mouth has also been documented on numerous occasions.
There are also accounts of women captured from Iraq, especially Yazidi women, from the Shengal (Sinjar) area, being brought to Raqqa and sold cheaply at al-Na’im roundabout.
As the SDF have been launching their assault on Raqqa since November 2016 to liberate the city, they have managed to free thousands of women in the process. The Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), which is a female-only branch of the Syrian Democratic Forces, are charged with the role of defending the physical security and protection of the rights of women.