Thousands of Syrian women continue to languish in prisons in Assad regime-controlled areas of Syria, suffering unimaginable horrors, as the world marks International Women's Day, a female survivor of jail torture said.
Nur Alhuda Hijazi spoke about the torture and sexual harassment she herself had to endure during her one-month long incarceration at a prison in Damascus.
Hijazi is one of more than 2,500 participants in an all-female international convoy that hit the road in Istanbul on Tuesday with a view to raising awareness on women imprisoned by the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The International Conscience Convoy comprising people from over 50 countries is expected to reach its final destination in Turkey's southern Hatay province near the Syrian border later Thursday.
Hijazi said the convoy’s message of being a "voice of the oppressed women in Syria" was vital for "the Syrian sisters still remaining in this hell".
Speaking in English about her own ordeal that began on Sept. 25 in 2012, Hijazi recalled how she had been arrested and brought to the regime's notorious prison in Damascus, known locally as 215.
"During a military security trap [set up] by Syrian intelligence, the soldiers abducted me and pushed me inside their car in the street in front of hundreds of people," she said.
Her torture began in the car itself. Soldiers repeatedly sexually harassed her and insulted her while she was being driven to the prison, she said.
Hijazi -- an economics graduate who used to do relief and media-related work in 2010 before war began in her country in 2011 -- said she later learned that the reason for her kidnapping and subsequent torture in prison was because the military wanted information on some people she knew.
"Arriving at the prison they stripped me completely before I entered the prison, 'to inspect me', they said.
"My first night was a very difficult night, I did not know what would happen tomorrow."
She was also horrified to see other female victims in her jail cell. There were seven Syrian women in the six-square-meter cell, including a 65-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl who had been raped in prison and showed signs of pregnancy.