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Symposium about about the impact of GBV on the women political participation

Symposium about about the impact of GBV on the women political participation

Dr. Maya Alrahabi Director of Musawa  participated in a symposium in the forty-first session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 3 July 2019 about the impact of GBV on the women political participation, the society’s view of survivors of detention, the responsibility of women’s organizations to advocate for accountability and support survivors, and to create campaigns to change the perception of society

Women’s political participation in Syria

The participation of Syrian women in politics began in the early 20th century. Syria was represented by a Syrian woman at the United Nations in 1940

After independence in 1946, women participated in political parties, and took right to vote 1949

Hafez Al Assad’s coup led him to power in 1970. Assad’s regime banned opposition parties and civil society organizations

In the 1980s, groups of women political activists, especially members of Communist parties, were arrested and tortured. They spent many years in detention, but after their release they faced other difficulties with the society, which stigmatize them

On the other hand, the oppressive regime attempted to project a positive image to the world. Each cabinet formation, included 30 ministers, one or two of whom were women, and about 12% of the members of the Parliament were women appointed in staged elections. The requirement for appointment was always loyalty rather than efficiency. None of the women deputies of the Parliament contributed to the defence of women’s rights. In 2008, all women deputies in parliament voted for keeping the reservations regarding the CEDAW Convention

Bashar Al-Assad became the ruler of Syria after the death of his father in 2000. A movement later called “Damascus Spring” was born, in which women participated effectively. The spring did not last long. The regime arrested many participants in the peaceful movement, including the arrest of Fida Hourani, the president of “Damascus declaration”

In March 2011, the Syrian revolution started as a part of the Arab Spring

Women participated actively in peaceful demonstrations in all Syrian cities and villages, demanding freedom, justice and dignity. They held leadership positions in “the local coordinating committees”

Women activists were arrested by the regime. Women detainees were subjected to all forms of torture, some of them died under torture (there are 62 documented cases for women activists killed under torture), others were convicted in so called counter-terrorism courts and spent years in prison

Some activists disappeared and their fate is still unknown

Some women activists fled Syria. They are now working from neighbouring countries or in diaspora

Families began to prevent their daughters participate in the revolution, afraid that they will be arrested and be subject of sexual violence

At a time when few families received their daughters who survived prison with love and sympathy, otheres  were killed by their families to preserve the so-called family honour. Many of them were not accepted by society. After the release of a female detainee, the main concern would be whether she was raped, while being subjected to torture or extreme physical and psychological violence was not important at all

The number of detainees in the regime’s prisons is estimated today at 8000 detainees and 250 girls, who are subjected to all kinds of violations

Peaceful demonstrations turned into an armed conflict between the regime and the revolutionaries. Many regional and international powers intervened. Terrorist factions, who infiltrated Syria, practiced violence against women as much as the regime did. During that period, women were used as hostages by all parties to exchange prisoners, and rape was used as a weapon to intimidate and humiliate the adversary

Syrian women activists who fled Syria have established many women and feminist organizations, which have undertaken the task to provide relief, empower women, and defend rights of women, and call for a political solution and women participation in all stages of peace-making, based on international laws and resolutions, especially CEDAW and resolution 1325, and all resolutions related to Syria, which stipulated to the political participation of women by at least 30 percent

Since Geneva 2 negotiations in 2014, the United Nations promoted an advisory role for women to compensate for its inability to impose active women’s participation by 30%. The Women’s Advisory Council of the Office of the Special Envoy has been formed.

Despite the radical differences between the delegations of the regime and the opposition, they agreed on only one thing: the marginalization of women

The international community tends to stereotype women as victims of wars who seek peace at any cost. Even if the cost was keeping oppressive regimes in power

The peace we, as feminist and political activists, seek is just and sustainable. That can only be achieved by changing the structure of the state from a state of domination and tyranny to a modern democratic secular state. A just, comprehensive and sustainable peace can only be achieved by accountability

Many experiences have shown that the involvement of women in peace-making, both locally and internationally, has made an effective and lasting peace

:Our strategy to fight SGBV is based on three topics

Accountability and compensation and reparation –

Support the survivors psychosocially, building trust with them, empower them in order to have confidence on themselves, and could find work to provide income to them and their children, where most of them forced to fled from their families, or changing their community and provide safe place to them and encourage them to testify about the crimes committed against them

– Raise awareness in the society, using champagnes, media and social networks, to change the community’s perception of them and stop stigmatizing them, and deal with them equal to survivor men

We will continue to fight, as feminists and political activists, against all forms of political, patriarchal and religious despotism, until achieving the objectives of Syrian revolution: freedom, justice and equality

The intervention was

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