UK & World News
Syrian Rape Victims 'Suffer In Silence'
Syrian victims of rape and sexual abuse are often forced to "suffer in silence", aid workers have said.
Unicef's head of child protection in Jordan told Sky News the stigma associated with surviving such attacks means many Syrians are scared to seek help.
Mahar Homsi said: "Fear of disclosure is paramount. Especially in Middle Eastern and Syrian society, you are expected to suffer the abuse in silence.
"That's why we're trying to say you can seek services in a very confidential way and we can help you recover from such horrible experiences."
At the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan, numerous programmes and 'safe spaces' allow women and children to seek counselling and therapy.
Similar services exist in other host countries such as Lebanon and Iraq, as well as inside Syria.
In January, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) published figures suggesting 38,000 Syrians had approached the agency in relation to such violence in 2013.
However, it has admitted such cases probably only represent a fraction of the problem.
Mollie Fair, the UNFPA's regional advisor on humanitarian issues, said: "It might be the survivor's decision that he or she doesn't want to seek services.
"There might be pressures from family or community that prevent them coming forward (or) it might be that services aren't available or they're unaware, so we consider this just a small representation of what's actually occurring."
It is only in the rare instances where someone is prepared to recount their ordeal that the true horror of this aspect of the Syrian conflict comes to light.
Manhal, a 30-year-old man from Homs, agreed to speak to Sky News on condition we obscured his identity.
He was detained by Syrian regime forces at the end of 2011 after filming anti-government protests and posting them online.
He claims his captors brought his wife and son before him and said if he gave them the information about other anti-Assad activists, both would be released.
Instead, despite him giving them a false list of names, they killed his son.
Numbed and still refusing to talk, they threatened to rape his wife.
He claims she told him to stay quiet because they had already raped her.
He said three of the captors then held her down and raped her despite her resistance, spitting and cursing at her abusers.
For that they beat her to death.
Manhal himself was slashed with knives, burnt with cigarettes and electrocuted - attacks that have left him permanently disfigured.
He was left for dead on a rubbish heap but somehow survived.
He was helped to safety by strangers and eventually made it to Za'atari†before heading to Amman for medical treatment.
In Jordan he joined hundreds of thousands of other Syrians displaced by the conflict.
But while the stigma of sex being used as a weapon remains, it is almost impossible to say how many others who, like Manhal, have witnessed or survived this most brutal violence.