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2014 | MADRE & IWHR, Seeking Accountability and Effective Response for Gender-Based Violence Against Syrian Women: Women’s Inclusion in Peace Processes

This report looks at the Syrian conflict from the perspective of women’s rights. It starts by explaining the role of women in the Syrian conflict, which has been very active from the start of the peaceful uprising. However, this has been minimalized since the conflict turned into a military conflict.  The report argues that in order to come to peaceful and durable solutions, women’s voiced should be included in the peace negotiations. But moreover, this is of great importance to bring women’s right and accountability for (sexual) gendered violence in a future post-conflict Syria.

In the current conflict, a shocking pattern of sexual violence has emerged on both the regime and opposition sides, constituting crimes against humanity. Rape has been used as a weapon of war, for instance during house searches.  Also, sexual violence has been reported in detention.

As this type of violence is heavily stigmatized and has social consequences – women who have been raped, can be regarded as ‘unfit’ for marriage - it is underreported. Besides this, the access to adequate health care is very limited in the Syrian conflict. Female refugees that have fled the conflict, name fear for sexual violence as one of the main reasons.

Besides sexual violence, the conflict is also the cause for other gender-related problems. Due to economic insecurity, the age of marriage has decreased for girls. Many parents have been unable to register their children after giving birth, leading to high levels of stateless children.

Even though sexual violence during the conflict is on the agenda of the UN and Inquiry Commission, it should be noted that it does not end when the conflict ends. Therefore, it is of utter importance to keep it on the agenda in post-conflict Syria. Even though statistical data is rare, rape was a serious problem in Syria before the war, according to activists. A primacy should lay in the criminalisation of domestic violence and marital rape. Also, women’s access to health care has been limited. Lastly, the Syrian nationality laws are more favourable for men.

The report ends with recommendations for the UN Security Council, the UN in general and donor countries.