To get to the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, Syrian women and girls had to face a gauntlet of deadly violence including extortion, trafficking and abuse. Once in the camps, they expected to find safety.
What they found, according to Amnesty International researchers, was more danger and the threat of gender violence.
A majority of the 2.9 million Syrian refugees are women and children. Having fled violence, and often surviving a treacherous journey across the Syrian desert, these refugees sought safety and shelter in the camps. More than 120,000 of them made their way to the Za’atri camp, making it the largest refugee camp in Jordan.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
A Syrian refugee woman and children walk near their makeshift tents in central Ankara (Photo Credit: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images).
In the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan, Syrian women are afraid to go to the restrooms at night, using the desert-like conditions around their homes rather than risk sexual assault.
In neighboring Lebanon, since August, numerous Syrians have been turned back from the border, forcing them to return to dangerous conditions where their lives are at risk.
In Egypt, many Syrian refugees face growing anti-Syrian sentiment among the populace and open hostility from Egyptian armed forces. Hundreds have been detained, and at least 66 have been deported back to Syria where they face arrest, violating international law.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Maha Abu Shama, Syria Campaigner at Amnesty International
“We have no women for marriage” is Khawlah’s usual response when Jordanian or other foreign men ask about marrying her 14-year-old daughter when they come looking for a bride.
Like other Syrian women refugees I met during a recent visit to Jordan, Khawlah complained how Jordanian men constantly bombard her with marriage proposals or requests to arrange marriages with refugee girls.
“I do not have work for you, but could marry you if you like,” is what ‘Aisha was told when she went looking for work. A 22-year-old student of English Literature, she complained that one of the reasons her job search in the Jordanian capital of Amman has been futile so far is that she often receives marriage proposals instead of paid work.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The UN is expecting up to one million Syrian refugees by mid 2013. Click to explore full map.
Faced with shelling and shortages of food, water and fuel, civilians have fled their homes, becoming refugees in neighboring countries or finding themselves internally displaced. Towns and villages across Latakia, Idlib, Hama and Dara’a governorates have been effectively emptied of their populations. Entire neighbourhoods in southern and eastern Damascus, Deir al-Zour and Aleppo have been razed. The downtown of Homs city has been devastated.
—Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. December 20, 2012.
The impact of Syria’s spiraling conflict can be increasingly seen in neighboring countries, as indiscriminate attacks are sending hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing from their homes across borders in search of safety and shelter. According to the latest update from the Independent International inquiry on Syria—released just hours ago—entire towns and villages have been emptied of their populations. The intensified fighting around Damascus and the mounting atrocities across the country are accompanied by increasing reports of sectarian violence. While we can’t predict the outcome of the conflict, one thing seems certain: the cycle of violence and displacement of civilians will go on for months. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Jordanian journalist Rana Husseini’s new book examines the charged issue of honor killings of women that occur in Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, and other countries. Murder in the Name of Honor chronicles many years of careful research and reporting carried out by Ms Husseini, who writes for the English-language Jordan Times, and has won numerous awards, including the Reebok Human Rights Award.
Honor killings of women and girls are carried out by their male relatives in order to restore the honor of the family due to a woman’s perceived unchaste behavior. The issue is understandably highly sensitive, and until the intrepid and tireless reporting on the subject by Ms Husseini, the subject was not discussed openly. Largely because of Ms Husseini, the issue of honor killings has become a matter of public debate in Jordan. While the Jordanian royal family has long advocated for changes to laws that provide for lenient sentences for those convicted of honor killings, resistance to change has been persistent among certain sectors of society, who believe that toughening the penalties for those committing honor killings would somehow send a signal that unchaste behavior is acceptable. Amnesty International has campaigned to end the tolerance of honor killings in countries such as Jordan and has called for amendments to laws that allow these human rights violations to continue.
Amnesty International reported that there were at least 16 incidents of honor killings in Jordan in 2008. In March 2008 a man who had killed his married sister in 2007 was sentenced to just three months in prison. He murdered her because of her supposedly “immoral behavior” which included leaving home without her husband’s permission and speaking to other men on her mobile phone.
Ms Husseini will be on a tour of the United States over the next month to promote her book. She will be speaking at a number of public events including:
San Francisco on October 14 at 7 pm at the Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia Street.
She will be speaking and signing her book in Chicago on October 19 at 7 pm at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue at an event sponsored by Amnesty International USA and the National Organization for Women. She will be introduced by Rafia Zakaria, a member of Amnesty International’s Board of Directors and an expert on women and Islamic Law.
New York on October 21 at 7 pm at Bluestockings Bookstore 172 Allen Street.
Washington DC on October 27 at 6:00 pm at Busboys and Poets Bookstore, 2021 14th Street.