Syrian refugee woman and daughters in Lebanon (Photo: Reuters/Jamal Saidi)
The Syrian crisis shoots across our television and computer screens daily. The millions of people displaced and dying affect us in different ways. For some of us, the threat of bombs dropping into our homes is completely unfathomable and for others, it is a regular fear. But there are other trials and tribulations that Syrians are facing every day—some of which affect people from all walks of life.
The WHO estimates that one in three women globally will be beaten, raped, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. The wealth and development of a woman’s country does not matter—this includes women in the U.S., Europe, and Syria. If this is the case, what happens during a time of conflict to reports of brutality against women and girls?
Syrians are fleeing to their bordering countries daily. It is estimated that approximately 2,000 Syrians cross the border into neighboring Lebanon every day. According to the UNHCR, there are 2,428,754 registered Syrian refugees, 927,638 of which are in Lebanon. In fact, it is estimated that by the end of 2013, one in five people in Lebanon was Syrian. Syrians are facing treacherous conditions to flee into Lebanon, women and girls among them. Yet, women and girls are facing the risk of gender-based violence (GBV) along the way as well.
It is impossible to prevent people from being victimized, but risk-reduction and response programs can be set-up to aid the situation—and that is exactly what has started happening in Lebanon.
Victim Services in Lebanon
For years, local NGOs in Lebanon have been fighting an uphill battle to provide victim services to Lebanese women and girls who have been victims. One of the biggest gaps these groups faced was an extreme lack of trained professionals throughout the country to provide the services that victims needed.
With the influx of refugees from Syria came an influx of international aid organizations prepared to help during the time of crisis. There are now more than 20 organizations, local and international, including multiple divisions of the United Nations, providing services to victims of GBV in Lebanon. These organizations are providing training to professionals who will now work in different regions of Lebanon to provide victim services to both Syrian refugees and Lebanese women.
Succinct services are now available to more victims in Lebanon. Hospitals and clinics have kits that enable them to perform tests, provide medications, or offer other services, all in one place. Professionals are being trained to view the benefactors as survivors, as opposed to bodies of evidence, and to treat them without judgment. Halfway houses are also being created throughout the country for women and girls who have been victims. The houses have been created for Syrian refugees but are open to Lebanese women, and will stick around after the refugees leave.
Victim services and halfway houses are not going to solve the problems for Syrian refugees or for Lebanese women. Legislation criminalizing family violence in Lebanon has been deadlocked in parliament for over a year. But this is a positive start. Sometimes crises like those facing Syrian refugees or women in every country throughout the world seem too tough to tackle. Yet, what is happening in Lebanon shows us that one step at a time we can tackle GBV for all.
Read the full article for more information. Use it as a stepping-stone for your own research on the situation.