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Project MonMa in Lebanon and Turkey

Project Monma travelled to Lebanon and Turkey to research the situation of Syrian women who had fled as refugees to both countries. Turkey has taken in an estimated 2.7 million Syrian refugees and Lebanon is currently hosting approximately 1.2 million refugees according to the United Nations.

We met with a number of Syrian women and local organizations working with refugees in both Lebanon and Turkey to learn more about Syrian women’s experiences as refugees and to find out more about any of the problems they were encountering.

As in all conflict situations, women and girls are often the most vulnerable, particularly when it comes to sexual harassment. In both Turkey and Lebanon, all of the Syrian women we met reported that they had experienced widespread sexual harassment as part of their experience as refugees. Women also reported using survival sex as a means of survival with few other opportunities to gain employment. 

There were also reports of girls being forced into prostitution and of young girls being sold into marriages or what are known as temporary marriages as a means of generating income.

In Turkey, a report by the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity With the Oppressed found that sexual harassment is a serious problem for Syrian women in Turkey, particularly for those living outside refugee camps. Women and girls are also at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking gangs and early or temporary marriages.

The report found that few Syrian women have been able to find employment, which has been made worse by language problems and discriminatory attitudes towards women. Many women have ended up becoming cleaners, babysistters or working in agriculture, factories or service sectors.

In the town of Gaziantep in Turkey, we met with two sisters from Syria in a small distribution centre in Gaziantep, Turkey. Both women were in their 40’s and fled the armed conflict by paying people smugglers to bring them across the border to Turkey. Their arrival into Gaziantep in Turkey however, did not offer much relief from the violence in Syria and both women reported widespread sexual harassment from local men.

‘We are suffering,’ said Amima. ‘Syrian women in Turkey are being harassed by men of all ages. I am 45 years old and am constantly harassed, age doesn’t matter.’

‘We have been told that if we want to work, we have to do sexual favors for them,’ said Fatima. ‘We have been forced to leave many jobs because of this problem. Male landlords are offering to reduce the rent in return for sexual favors.’

‘I have heard Turkish men praying that the war will never end so they continue to have a supply of vulnerable women,’ said Amima.

‘Men from the Gulf countries come to Syria to buy young girls,’ said Amima. ‘Women are being bought and sold into marriage, so that they buyer can legally have sex with the girls. They then dump them and leave them. Women are being sold like real estate.’

In Lebanon, Amnesty International reported that the sexual harassment and sexual exploitation of female Syrian refugees in Lebanon was widespread. Women have reported that Lebanese men offer money in exchange for sex, taking advantage of their vulnerability. Almost all women that we spoke with reported that they were sexually harassed in public by their neighbors, bus and taxi drivers, strangers in the street and also sometimes by police officers and government employees.

Women refugees in Lebanon also reported exploitation by employers or who asked them for sex.

Lilian Salloum from the Danish Refugee Council in Beirut said that Syrians are limiting their daughters from going to school because they fear that something might happen to them on the way to school which has resulted in many girls having to stay home.

Kafa (Enough) a woman’s rights organization in the Bekaa valley that gives free psychological support and legal assistance to women who have experienced violence said, ‘it is difficult for us to convince the Syrian women that what she has experienced is violence and to push forward with taking legal action against a man who has abused her. She’s afraid. She’s taught that she has to obey her husband. The culture is the most dangerous thing for a Syrian woman in war. She doesn’t have the right to defend herself.’

In a tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, we met with Om Noor. She fled Syria after her husband abandoned her and her five daughters in Syria. Refugee life has not proved easy for Om Noor and her daughters. ‘It’s when I arrived in Lebanon that I began to face the real difficulties,’ she said.

With five daughters to feed Om Noor struggled to find a means to survive. She tried searching for a job but found that employers were asking her to sleep with them in return for work. ‘Many women have tried to work in factories but have had to quit their jobs due to harassment from their bosses,’ she said.

She explained how with few financial choices, she sold her 15 year old daughter into marriage. The couple divorced after a month when the husband became abusive. Om Noor’s daughter now dreams of becoming a photographer and a journalist.

The situation for Syrian women fleeing war remains difficult and sexual harassment remains a pervasive problem. Much work is needed to be done to stop discriminatory attitudes towards women that allow men to feel entitled to harass and degrade women and girls, particularly of those who are fleeing war.

 

 

 

 

 

Project MonMa in Lebanon and Turkey

Project Monma travelled to Lebanon and Turkey to research the situation of Syrian women who had fled as refugees to both countries. Turkey has taken in an estimated 2.7 million Syrian refugees and Lebanon is currently hosting approximately 1.2 million refugees according to the United Nations.

We met with a number of Syrian women and local organizations working with refugees in both Lebanon and Turkey to learn more about Syrian women’s experiences as refugees and to find out more about any of the problems they were encountering.

As in all conflict situations, women and girls are often the most vulnerable, particularly when it comes to sexual harassment. In both Turkey and Lebanon, all of the Syrian women we met reported that they had experienced widespread sexual harassment as part of their experience as refugees. Women also reported using survival sex as a means of survival with few other opportunities to gain employment. 

There were also reports of girls being forced into prostitution and of young girls being sold into marriages or what are known as temporary marriages as a means of generating income.

In Turkey, a report by the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity With the Oppressed found that sexual harassment is a serious problem for Syrian women in Turkey, particularly for those living outside refugee camps. Women and girls are also at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking gangs and early or temporary marriages.

The report found that few Syrian women have been able to find employment, which has been made worse by language problems and discriminatory attitudes towards women. Many women have ended up becoming cleaners, babysistters or working in agriculture, factories or service sectors.

In the town of Gaziantep in Turkey, we met with two sisters from Syria in a small distribution centre in Gaziantep, Turkey. Both women were in their 40’s and fled the armed conflict by paying people smugglers to bring them across the border to Turkey. Their arrival into Gaziantep in Turkey however, did not offer much relief from the violence in Syria and both women reported widespread sexual harassment from local men.

‘We are suffering,’ said Amima. ‘Syrian women in Turkey are being harassed by men of all ages. I am 45 years old and am constantly harassed, age doesn’t matter.’

‘We have been told that if we want to work, we have to do sexual favors for them,’ said Fatima. ‘We have been forced to leave many jobs because of this problem. Male landlords are offering to reduce the rent in return for sexual favors.’

‘I have heard Turkish men praying that the war will never end so they continue to have a supply of vulnerable women,’ said Amima.

‘Men from the Gulf countries come to Syria to buy young girls,’ said Amima. ‘Women are being bought and sold into marriage, so that they buyer can legally have sex with the girls. They then dump them and leave them. Women are being sold like real estate.’

In Lebanon, Amnesty International reported that the sexual harassment and sexual exploitation of female Syrian refugees in Lebanon was widespread. Women have reported that Lebanese men offer money in exchange for sex, taking advantage of their vulnerability. Almost all women that we spoke with reported that they were sexually harassed in public by their neighbors, bus and taxi drivers, strangers in the street and also sometimes by police officers and government employees.

Women refugees in Lebanon also reported exploitation by employers or who asked them for sex.

Lilian Salloum from the Danish Refugee Council in Beirut said that Syrians are limiting their daughters from going to school because they fear that something might happen to them on the way to school which has resulted in many girls having to stay home.

Kafa (Enough) a woman’s rights organization in the Bekaa valley that gives free psychological support and legal assistance to women who have experienced violence said, ‘it is difficult for us to convince the Syrian women that what she has experienced is violence and to push forward with taking legal action against a man who has abused her. She’s afraid. She’s taught that she has to obey her husband. The culture is the most dangerous thing for a Syrian woman in war. She doesn’t have the right to defend herself.’

In a tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, we met with Om Noor. She fled Syria after her husband abandoned her and her five daughters in Syria. Refugee life has not proved easy for Om Noor and her daughters. ‘It’s when I arrived in Lebanon that I began to face the real difficulties,’ she said.

With five daughters to feed Om Noor struggled to find a means to survive. She tried searching for a job but found that employers were asking her to sleep with them in return for work. ‘Many women have tried to work in factories but have had to quit their jobs due to harassment from their bosses,’ she said.

She explained how with few financial choices, she sold her 15 year old daughter into marriage. The couple divorced after a month when the husband became abusive. Om Noor’s daughter now dreams of becoming a photographer and a journalist.

The situation for Syrian women fleeing war remains difficult and sexual harassment remains a pervasive problem. Much work is needed to be done to stop discriminatory attitudes towards women that allow men to feel entitled to harass and degrade women and girls, particularly of those who are fleeing war. 

Title Address Description
Colombia
Colombia
Algeria
Algeria
Argentina
Argentina
Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
India
India
Lebanon
Lebanon
Turkey
Turkey
Madagascar
Madagascar
Maldives
Maldives
Mozambique
Mozambique
Northern Iraq
Iraq
Tunisia
Tunisia