What all victims have in common is a fear of reaction of community


Meanwhile, UN investigator Rabiaa el-Gharani compared the “much higher and horrifying” level of violence in Iraq, citing the attacks on different villages like the one last August on a large group of Yazidi women, to the more “individual cases” of rape and sexual violence reported in Syria at check-points, detention centres and homes.

But what all victims seem to have in common is a fear of reaction of community and family members and the stigma attached to survivors of sexual violence, which results in “extreme” underreporting, a key challenge that Ms. Bangura heard throughout her trip.

So in order to be able to do what she can as their top advocate, Ms. Bangura urges groups with their eyes and ears on the ground in the field to provide the information and facts about sexual violence that women and girls are being subjected to so that she can use the collected data to confront governments.

“If you don’t look, you don’t see,” she appealed to a group of local NGOs working with refugee women in Turkey. “It is very difficult when a woman has been raped to admit that she has been raped.”