During dark sessions over a period of 38 days, guards whipped her with a wire, strung her alternatively by her wrists and feet, and injected the crook of her elbow twice a day with a kind of drug that made her feel high, she says. The things Abdulrahman recalls the men saying as they allegedly raped her multiple times were so filthy she is loath to repeat them — “it’s too dirty and too low” — although she remembers them saying, “Here is the freedom you wanted” (a phrasesimilar to ones other women have reported hearing while being raped in Syria). And she can summon up at least one face. And a couple of names.
Within an hour of her arrival at the detention center in Harasta, about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Damascus, where she was held in a cell with 20 other women, she says she was roused to consciousness and her torture began. She describes being gang-raped daily by men who smelled strongly of alcohol. Floating in and out of consciousness, she would kick and yell as best she could while lying next to another woman doing the same.
“We were all blindfolded and raped and we would not know who was raping us,” she says, tearing up for the first time in our interview. Before being blindfolded, she could see what she calls the “boss” sit in front of them, teaching them “exactly what to do and say to us.”
“They were ordered to take this one, to take ‘your portion,’” she says. “And they would take it.”