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Ed Webb

Syrian women refugees humiliated, exploited in Turkey - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Mi... - 0 views

  • Women refugees from Syria are being sexually harassed by employers, landlords and even aid distributors in Lebanon, reported Human Rights Watch Nov. 27, 2013. The organization “interviewed a dozen women who described being groped, harassed and pressured to have sex.”

    According to Dima, young Syrian women are facing the same difficulties in Turkey, including early marriages, abuse and even prostitution. She personally knows of many Syrian girls who were forced to marry older Turkish men for money. This mainly happens in families where there is no father or older brother to support them financially. Young Syrian women, therefore, are becoming the most vulnerable citizens, many of them having lost everything during the war and struggling to survive.

    Although Turkey is arguably one of the best countries to be a Syrian refugee, gender-related problems are on the rise, a female employee of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Turkey, who wished to remain anonymous, told Al-Monitor.

    “Especially in the camps and in villages, women are suffering. A lot of 15- or 16-year-olds are forced to marry because it provides financial stability and protection," she said. “Parents think that this is the best option, but in fact it causes a lot more problems, because they don’t know the future husband that well."

    She also mentioned that because of the lack of room inside refugees' houses and tents, domestic violence, including sexual violence, is rising as well. She has heard about several recent cases of men abusing their wives and older brothers sexually harassing their sisters.

  • Early and forced marriages are happening in all the neighboring countries where Syrian refugees are seeking safety. However, it is also part of their traditions to marry early, the United Nations reported. A study concluded that 44% of Syrian refugees identified the normal age of marriage for girls between 15 and 17 years. For example, in camps like Za’atari, in Jordan, girls as young as 14 are being married off, fearing attacks in the world’s second-largest refugee camp.
  • Most of the young Syrian refugees marry out of a sense of duty to their parents. The parents are struggling to cope financially with immense hardships caused by the war, and the daughter sacrifices herself by agreeing to marry. 

    “In Syria, I would have never allowed it. But here … Well, it is really hard to be a Syrian woman over here," Zeina said.

    The sense of humiliation for Syrian families struggling to survive is inescapable.

    “Please don’t judge us," Zeina pleaded.

Ed Webb

Arab Reform Bulletin - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace - 0 views

  • while Lebanese politicians talk about strengthening the LAF, most of them do not really want a strong national army. A strong LAF would mean empowered state institutions that, in turn, would weaken feudal political leaders who have been in power for decades. Lebanon’s current weak state institutions allow politicians to offer their supporters services such as medical care, education, and welfare support
  • The United States and other outsiders became increasingly aware of the LAF’s needs after it ousted an al-Qaeda inspired group entrenched in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in 2007. An underequipped, undertrained army was sent into an urban fighting environment. Commanders managed the battle via regular cell phones, and soldiers had little ammunition, no real air support, and limited intelligence.  The LAF won the battle after three months, but it cost the lives of 169 soldiers. 

    This confrontation showed the international community the potential value of the LAF and highlighted the importance of a strong state capable of curtailing the growth and infiltration of violent extremist groups in Lebanon. But because of the continued state of war between Lebanon and Israel, most Western countries donated insufficient, secondhand, or technologically outdated military equipment.

  • With no real defense strategy or a serious procurement budget, the LAF is pushed into a domestic security mission for which it is not prepared. Should it play that role effectively, it would clash with the multitude of local politicians protecting rogue armed supporters. The fact that it cannot ensures a weak military institution to the advantage of the same old established political elites, most of whom are former civil war warlords. This domestic role also comes at the expense of an external security role, in which the army would take over Hizbollah’s self-declared mission of protecting Lebanon against Israeli aggressions.
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