Growing Pressure to Tackle Domestic Abuse in Syria
Monday, December 22, 2008 2:08 PM

Recently, television, newspapers, and other public fora have been opening up discussion on violence against women, a once taboo subject in Syria. “Domestic violence is seen as a private matter in our society,” said Nihad Tuhmaz, a professor of sociology at the Baath University in Homs.

The government has held conferences on the subject in the past few years.  Civil society, however, has taken a lead role in combating violence against women by establishing hotlines and appearing on television.

Syria lacks laws specifically addressing domestic violence, which poses an obstacle to efforts to change attitudes on this issue and to hold perpetrators accountable.  Syrian human rights advocates have begun drafting a law to address these gaps in Syria's laws, but the government has yet to embrace the law.

Advocates are also applying pressure to revise laws addressing so-called "honour crimes" against female family members.  Perpetrators in such cases typically receive reduced sentences in comparison to sentences for criminal assault.

A 2006 UNIFEM report found that one in four Syrian women were abused. According to an Institute for War & Peace Reporting article, another study found that only one out of 250 domestic violence cases are reported.

Compiled from: Growing Pressure to Tackle Domestic Abuse, Syria News Briefing, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 11 December 2008.