HRW: Syrian refugee women sexually harassed in Lebanon

November 27, 2013 12:03

BEIRUT - Women refugees who escaped Syria's conflict to find sanctuary in neighboring Lebanon have been sexually harassed by employers, landlords and an employee of a local aid group, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The organization said it interviewed a dozen women who described being groped, harassed and pressured to have sex. They did not report the incidents to authorities for fear of reprisal by their abusers or because they might be arrested for not having valid papers, it said.

"Women who have fled death and destruction in Syria should find a safe haven, not sexual abuse, in Lebanon," said Liesl Gerntholtz, HRW's women's rights director.

The United Nations says 800,000 refugees have crossed into Lebanon to escape the 2-1/2 year conflict in Syria, though the total number is likely to be more than 1 million as many do not register with the UN refugee agency.

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