On Int’l Day for Elimination of VAW, Syrian Experience to Empower Female Survivors of Violence Proved Successful

DAMASCUS – “Orange the World, Leave No One Behind” is the title of the UN’s initiative launched on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which occurs on November 25th every year.

According to SANA, the campaign, which lasts from November 25th till December 10th, aims at raising awareness of the negative effects of this phenomenon with more focus laid on improving the situation of the weakest and most neglected group of people in the world, particularly female refugees, displaced women and those affected by conflicts and natural disasters, in addition to rallying world public opinion about all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls and promoting the local and international communities to exert more efforts in order to reach effective and final solutions to put an end to it.

 In Syria, civil organizations have worked side by side with governmental institutions to confront this epidemic through awareness-raising activities and rehabilitation programs for survivors of violence and these efforts were crowned by the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs and Population’s inauguration of family protection unit in Damascus to provide psychological support to women and children who experienced violence and abuse.

Head of the Syrian Commission for Family and Population Affairs, Dr. Akram al-Qash, said that the unit was designated to be the first governmental institution that provides an integrated series of legal, health and educational services for women who survived violence, indicating that the government is studying the possibility of establishing other units across different provinces.

Al-Qash referred to the growing number of violence cases, noting that the current crisis and terrorist war waged on Syria increased the spread of this phenomenon due to the deteriorating economic and psychological situation, not to mention the prevailing social norms related to male authority, early-marriage and preventing females from  education and work.

For his part, Dr. Arabi al-Masri, the Professor at Information Faculty and a lecturer in training workshops on gender-based violence stressed the role of mass media in raising awareness about violence against women and girls.

He called for exerting more efforts to reduce the devastating consequences of violence, especially in conflicts and war-affected areas.

 Several programs and initiatives on empowering and supporting women were launched such as the joint project of al-Nada Developmental Association in cooperation with the UN Higher Commission for Refugee Affairs. The project includes different psychological and educational programs, loans, child protection, medical and material assistance, rehabilitation services for people with special needs and a special program to end gender-based violence.

 The United Nations considered violence against women as a global pandemic, estimating that 1 in 3 women have experienced a sexual violence in their lifetime.