Report: Women in Syria being subjected to sexual exploitation for aid

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Gender-based violence, child marriages and the fear of sexual violence including sexual harassment, continue to pervade the lives of women and girls in Syria resulting in very few spaces where women and girls feel safe, a new research has revealed.

According to the 2018 assessments – Voices from Syria 2018 – released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the fear of sexual violence, often associated with abduction, is a concern raised by women and girls, contributing to psychosocial stress and further limitation of their movements.

The report says that the restriction on freedom of movement of women and girls also inhibits their access to services, humanitarian aid and ultimately their rights. It also extensively documents instances of aid workers demanding sex in exchange of basic supplies.

Sexual violence

“The shame and stigma surrounding sexual violence contributes to survivors not talking about violence when it happens. Women and girls also fear honor killing as a result of sexual violence. Families arrange marriages for girls, believing it will protect them and ease the financial burden on the family,” says the report.

According to the report, girls are reportedly being married younger. “The socio-economic situation, lack of livelihood opportunities, and increased poverty is ultimately leading more women to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as survival sex,” it said.

According to the report, women and girls face sexual exploitation in these circumstances. “Poverty, displacement, being head of the household, coupled with gender inequalities are all understood to contribute to this form of gender-based violence,” said the report.

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