The situation in Syria is depressing. It’s a call for the entire humanity to fight against violence. The pictures that come across from Syria breaks millions of hearts. Now, the ‘Voices of Syria 2018’ report reveals even more heart-breaking stories.
The report begins with “The 2018 assessments confirmed that gender-based violence, particularly verbal harassment, domestic violence (including family violence against women and girls), child marriages and the fear of sexual violence including sexual harassment, continue to pervade the lives of women and girls in Syria inside and outside the home, resulting in very few spaces where women and girls feel safe.”
This is not the first time that the Syrian women are facing the problem. It’s been three years since this has come into light. The BBC reported that “This exploitation was first reported three years ago. Danielle Spencer, a humanitarian adviser working for a charity, heard about the allegations from a group of Syrian women in a refugee camp in Jordan in March 2015. She conducted a focus group with some of these women who told her how men from local councils in areas such as Dara'a and Quneitra had offered them aid for sex.”
The report mentioned that there were different types of gender-based violence inflicted upon Syrian women. They were child marriage, Domestic violence, Family violence, Sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, abduction, detention and torture. Most of it comes from aid supporters, local authorities and other men.
The report adds, “The fear of sexual violence, often associated with abduction, is a concern raised by women and girls, contributing to psychosocial stress and further limitation of their movements. The restriction on freedom of movement of women and girls also inhibits their access to services, humanitarian aid and ultimately their rights. The shame and stigma surrounding sexual violence contribute to survivors not talking about violence when it happens. Women and girls also fear honour killing as a result of sexual violence. Families arrange marriages for girls, believing it will protect them and ease the financial burden on the family. Girls are reportedly being married younger." All of this is leading women to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as survival sex.
“She has made her 15-year-old daughter marry because she was afraid of assault or kidnapping. When she is married, her husband protects her, says a woman from Dana sub-district.”
Child marriage is seen as a way of survival. Most of the girls are married off young so that they have assured protection from their husbands and also lessen the burden of their family.
“When a man gets angry, he hits his wife with whatever is in his hand, says a woman from Al-Khashniyyeh sub-district.”
The report also reveals that women are subjected to severe domestic violence. They get hit, yelled, screamed and scolded by their husbands. Women working is also leading men to resort to violence to restrict women’s movement. Working women are considered as a threat to the family. Others also recounted that they face violence from their in-laws, especially the brother of their husbands.
“Women discussed daily fear of sexual violence including street harassment and rape. Participants in qualitative assessments noted that the purpose of kidnapping and abduction of women and girls was often associated with rape and sexual assault. Overall, the shame and social stigma associated with women and girls’ virginity deeply influence both the impact of sexual violence and the coping mechanisms available to survivors. Murder of women and girls by their family members in the name of honour, victim blaming and forced marriage to the perpetrators were also mentioned.”
“13-year-old girls go to the bakeries to make little money. I know that people exploit those girls sexually in return for buying bread from them. This is very common, says a man from At Tall sub-district.”
The report further pointed out that widows and divorced women were at particular risk to forced marriage, polygamy and movement restriction. Widows and divorced women expressed fear that their children would be taken away from them.
This is just a percent depiction of the state of women in Syria. The huge report compiles such instances of women who face severe and horrifying exploitation. The International actors promise aid but nonetheless, the aid in Syria is bartered with sex from women.
Reshma Ganeshbabu is an intern with SheThePeople.TV