Government Spares No Effort to Eliminate all Forms of Violence against Women

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated in all countries around the world on March 8th. People everywhere are called on to highlight the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and to be inspired to take action to promote equality and inclusivity.

Women in Syria are key players not only in everyday life, but also in the socio-political fields. They assumed high positions in the state including, presidential advisor, speaker of parliament, minister, directors general, not to mention their participation in all walks of life shoulder to shoulder with men to build modern Syria.

However, the ongoing terrorist war on the country put new obstacles in front of Syrian women and forced them to face increasing level of violence under terrorism in a bid to bring them back to the ages of backwardness and ignorance.

Marking IWD, the ‘’Assawari’’ Civil Society Association in Lattakia province held a symposium on violence against women and ways to empower women to face this destructive and humiliating phenomenon. The association hosted Mr. Ghayath Zaybok, the Executive Director of the Family Planning Association in Lattakia province to deliver a lecture on Gender Based Violence (GBV) against women which constitutes a form of discrimination and violation of women fundamental freedoms and rights.

 Women situation under the terrorist war on Syria

Concerning the situation of Syrian women under the ongoing crisis in the country, Mr. Zaybok  told Syriatimes e-newspaper that "in some areas where terrorists tried to impose their dark mentality on all aspects of life, women became victims of various forms of violence including physical and psychological violence". He affirmed that the crisis in the country have produced new cases of violations against women, including human trafficking, slavery and rape.

This suffering, said Zaybok, necessitated the Syrian government to make extra efforts to protect women in these areas and deal with the ramifications of the trauma they experienced.

The Syrian government policy has given top priority to the empowerment of women and it promoted the role of women as equal partners to men in achieving sustainable development and peace and in showing full respect for human rights, Zaybok added.

‘’In this regard several governmental and civil society organizations worked together  to further empower women economically, psychologically and socially and to provide support for all women affected by terrorism and subjected to various forms of violence’’ he said, noting the awareness programs and campaigns as well as the projects being carried out aiming to help women regain confidence in their ability to overcome the repercussion of the crisis, improve their socio-economic status and start a new life.  

Steadfast Syrian women

On the other hand, Mr. Zaybok asserted that the steadfast Syrian women have sacrificed much during the crisis as many of them have lost their loved ones including parents, husbands, brothers and children as martyrs because of terrorism, yet the Syrian women never stopped to play their role in defending their homeland and supporting the army in its battle against terrorism.

Gender Based Violence

In his lecture during the symposium, Mr. Zaybok said in general, gender based violence against women has different forms including physical, psychological, sexual, social and economic violence, adding that gender inequality and discrimination as well as unfulfilled human rights are the root causes of violence.  Other elements that encourage GBV are drug and alcohol, collapse of support systems, lost jobs, conflict and displacement, lack of education and poverty, he pointed out.

GBV against women can happen in different life stages. It includes physical abuse, keeping girls out of school, sexual abuse, forced prostitution, rape,  early marriage, limitation of freedom, trafficking, widow inheritance, denial of ownership and inheritance, harassment and elderly abuse Zaybok said.

He stressed that GBV taking place during peace time increases during crises and armed conflicts, citing examples of some  gender-based violence in armed conflicts including sexual assaults and killing, coerced pregnancy, intentional infection with AIDS, kidnapping, sexual slavery, rape and gang rape, sexual torture, early marriage, sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Mr. Zaybok also talked about the health, psychological, social and economic consequences of GBV.

Health outcomes mainly include homicide, suicide, AIDS related mortality, disability, disease and infection, while the psychological consequences include trauma, fear, depression and low self-esteem, he said.

 Economic effects, according to Zaybok, are demonstrated in loss of assets due to divorce or loss of inheritance, inability to control resources, loss of income, poverty and loss of education opportunities, while the Social outcomes are represented in discrimination, shame, stigma, isolation, rejection of husband and family, loss of ability to function in community and family.

Women undertake more responsibilities during crisis

On her part, Head of the "Assawari" Civil Society Association, Mrs. Afnan Blal said "on International Women's Day, I would like to hail the role being played by Syrian women in our society within the current hard times and difficult conditions, as they have undertaken more responsibilities and duties and stood side by side with men to build and improve the Syrian society."

She stressed that the association is a support initiative that seeks alleviating women’s suffering and helping the affected women who fled the atrocities of terrorist groups in several provinces.

Mrs. Blal affirmed the need to draw up a plan to maintain the Syrian women’s rights and fortify them against all forms of violence. This plan, she asserted, should be put in partnership with the government and civil society parties as to be approved in order to help improve the situation of women under the ongoing crisis. She pointed out that women are becoming victims of various forms of transgressions including physical and psychological violence practiced by takfiri terrorist groups.

She pointed out that the violations and crimes committed by terrorist groups against women and children in some Syrian areas necessitate immediate action by all concerned parties to put an end to these violent and terrorist groups.

Interviewed by Rawaa Ghanam