The Syrian regime forces did not hesitate to attack or arrest women, whatever their circumstances, in order to quash the Syrian opposition and the popular movement. Although Jamila was four months pregnant, this did not deter the regime forces from taking her to their security division.
Jamila was expecting her new baby in the Hama countryside where she lived with her husband and his family, until she was arrested by the Syrian regime forces. “Their torture methods were more psychological than physical,” she recalls. “The screams of the men and women who were being tortured and begging for mercy were the worst. I thought I would be next. I used to wake up in the middle of the night screaming and crying ‘Get me out of here, do not touch me, I did not do anything!’”.
Jamila was moved from the State security branch in Hama to the criminal security branch, where she remained barefooted, struggling to protect her life and the life of her baby. Her family tried to pay a lot of money to transfer her to court and prompt the regime to release her. “I was transferred to court after my family paid more than a million and a half to the security branch in Hama. My family mandated a lawyer who was close to the regime to defend me, and they were able to have me released.”
However, it was the beginning of a different kind of suffering. As soon as Jamila was released, she found herself living in the shadow of fear and society. “In the early days of my leaving the prison, I hesitated to return to my village, but staying in the city might expose me to get arrested again. Yet, going back would cause me a dreadful confrontation with my husband’s family and society,” said Jamila. “But my family encouraged me and I made my decision after they promised to protect me and hide me from the eyes of the people and the local authorities. I was afraid that someone would hand me over to the Sharia Court or the Free Army under any alleged reason”.
The day Jamila went back coincided with her husband’s wedding. “I witnessed my husband’s wedding upon my return, and this was the biggest shock of my life, from which I still haven’t recovered,” she said. Nevertheless, despite what happened, she went back to her husband and accepted the presence of his second wife, who lives with him and his family, while Jamila lives alone. “We got married after we fell in love, so he did not treat me like he treated his second wife. He cared for me and offered me his help and assistance”.
However, her husband’s family had a different opinion. His mother refused to recognize Jamila’s baby and asked her to undergo a DNA test. “I never expected her to do what she did, how could she ask for this test for her grandson?” Jamila said. “She also told everyone while I was away that she couldn’t trust me and my son, alleging that I was often raped in prison and that she wouldn’t let me return to her son or recognize the child until she saw the result of the DNA test, which was positive, of course.”
In the end, with the help of her husband, Jamila was able to get a copy of her nursing degree from one of the regime-controlled regions and get a job in the Civil Defense. “My husband helped me stand again on my feet and secured a job for me within a week. He then began to teach me about the media, editing and report-writing, and helped me participate in educational courses, to start my life again.”
Jamila’s story is one of the many stories of women who were unjustly treated by society after their release from prison, even though hers bears some hope thanks to her determination and the presence of her husband. However, many women did not receive this opportunity and could not see the light at the end of the detention tunnel.