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Search form Search. Reporting on gender-based violence in the Syria crisis: Facilitator's guide. UNFPA, Gender-based violence and child protection among Syrian refugees in Jordan, with a focus on early marriage. UN Women.


Metrics details. A myriad of factors including socio-economic hardships impact refugees, with females being additionally exposed to various forms of sexual and gender-based violence SGBV. The aim of this qualitative analysis was to understand and to provide new insight into the experiences of SGBV among Syrian refugee women and girls in Lebanon. The SenseMaker survey intentionally did not ask direct questions about experiences of SGBV but instead enabled stories about SGBV to become apparent from a wide range of experiences in the daily lives of Syrian girls. For this analysis, all first-person stories by female respondents about experiences of SGBV were included in a thematic analysis as well as a random selection of male respondents who provided stories about the experiences of Syrian girls in Lebanon.

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In total, 70 of the first person stories from female respondents and 42 of the stories shared by male respondents included dialogue on SGBV. While experiences of sexual harassment were mainly reported by women and girls, male respondents were much more likely to talk explicitly about sexual exploitation. In abusive relationships, some girls and women continued to face violence as they sought divorces and attempted to flee unhealthy situations. This study contributes to existing literature by examining SGBV risks and experiences Sex from syria refugees integrated into their host community, and also by incorporating the perceptions of men.

Peer Review reports. Since the start of the conflict inthe situation in Syria has remained one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world [ 1 ] with 5,5 million Syrians having fled the country as of Juneand another 6 million people internally displaced [ 23 ]. Although not a atory to the United Nations UN Refugee Convention, Lebanon has a long history of hosting refugees includingPalestinian refugees in addition to 18, refugees from Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan and other countries [ 5 ].

The highest s of Syrian refugees are located in the governorate of Bekaafollowed by North Lebanonand Beirut[ 5 ].

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Nine years into the crisis, Syrian refugees in Lebanon are now more vulnerable than ever, with more than half of them currently living in extreme poverty and over three quarters living below the poverty line [ 89 ]. This in turn has resulted in tensions within the host communities, which at times has been manifested as violence and discrimination towards Syrian refugees [ 11 ].

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Displaced Syrian families in Lebanon are also confronted with burdensome governmental policies and regulations. For example, those registered with UNHCR must pledge that they will not work in Lebanon, while other Syrians are only permitted to work in agriculture, construction and environment. Although the Lebanese Government agreed in to ease work restrictions for Syrian refugees, discussions are still ongoing around implementation of these procedural changes [ 121314 ]. While many of these children face risks related to poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, and forced labor, girls are also vulnerable to additional gendered risks including child marriage, domestic violence DV and intimate partner violence IPVsexual exploitation and assault, as well as intimidation and fear of violence within their communities [ 151617 ].

In humanitarian crises women and girls are at risk of various forms of sexual and gender-based violence SGBV [ 18 ]. Although a violation of human rights, SGBV has remained widespread with at least one in every three Sex from syria being beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime [ 2021 ].

Mass rape in war has been documented in crises regions such as Bosnia, Somalia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar [ 242728 ]. As of today, Rohingyan women in Myanmar and Yezidi women in Iraq face systematic campaigns of sexual violence based on their ethnicity and religious affiliations [ 2429 ].

In post-migration settings, women frequently experience social and cultural isolation as well as dire economic need, making them again vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation as well as commercial sex work [ 31 ]. While SGBV against women and girls during the Syrian conflict, mainly perpetrated by armed actors, is well documented [ 32 ], data about SGBV in Syria before the crisis is lacking as it was rarely discussed [ 33 ].

Prior to the war, Syria was very patriarchal and men dominated almost all aspects of society [ 34 ]. According to the feminist perspective, men dominated the public sphere whereas women were essentially relegated to the private sphere. For instance, women found it difficult to raise issues that impacted them and the political process was biased towards the public sphere whilst largely ignoring the private realm.

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By marginalising the private sphere, men maintained their dominance of the political process from one generation to the next [ 3536 ]. Earlier evidence has suggested that gender norms are changing due to the Syrian crisis and its resultant displacement. For instance, Syrian women report feelings more empowered and describe having increased responsibilities with regards to Sex from syria outside the home and providing for their families [ 37 ].

These altered gender norms have been accompanied, however, by increasing reports of SGBV perpetrated by men who use violence as a coping mechanism and to reassert hegemonic patriarchal roles [ 16 ]. Increased rates of child marriage within Syrian refugee populations have been identified [ 383940 ] and studies in Lebanon have highlighted that financial hardships, lack of educational opportunities and safety concerns are the main drivers of early marriage among Syrian refugee populations [ 3839 ].

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Economic vulnerability also puts many girls and women at risk of sex trafficking [ 42 ]. While many SGBV risks have been well documented and are common across a variety of settings, less is known about the SGBV threats faced by displaced women and girls who are largely integrated into their host communities rather than hosted in formal refugee camps.

It is also less common that research on SGBV includes the perspectives of men and boys in addition to that of women and girls.

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Therefore, what the current study contributes is two-fold: i an analysis of threats and experiences of SGBV among Syrian refugee women and girls who are integrated into their host communities; and ii a perspective of SGBV that is broader and more nuanced because it also includes insights from male community members. The ultimate goal of the research is to reduce SGBV risks and to improve assistance to those who have been affected.

Data was collected across three locations in Lebanon hosting a majority of Syrian refugees: Beirut, Beqaa and Tripoli. The team included six Syrian female Sex from syria to collect the perspectives of women and girls, as well as three Syrian and three Lebanese male interviewers to collect the perspectives of Syrian and Lebanese men respectively.

To represent a broad spectrum of perspectives on the lives of Syrian girls in Lebanon, a convenience sample within each of the following participant subgroups was recruited: married and unmarried Syrian girls, Syrian, Lebanese or Palestinian men, Syrian parents, and community leaders.

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Within each location, research assistants approached potential participants from their naturalistic community settings including: markets, post offices, commercial settings, bus stops, etc. Narratives were audio recorded in Arabic and then transcribed and translated from Arabic into English by native Arabic speakers.

Because the story prompts were open-ended, participants could share narratives about any experience of Syrian girls in Lebanon and thus, multiple themes arose from the data. The research presented here is a qualitative analysis of the subset of narratives about experiences of SGBV among Syrian women and girls. To ensure that male perspectives were also represented, every fifth story out of stories from male participants was also screened and those about experiences of SGBV were included for analysis.

The dataset is derived from a larger mixed-methods study, investigating the experiences of Syrian refugee women and girls in Lebanon [ 38 ]. For our purposes, Syrian girls referred to Syrian females under the age of 18, and this was clearly defined for all participants at the beginning of the Sex from syria. SenseMaker was developed by Cognitive Edge and has been used historically for understanding corporate culture, corporate restructuring, etc. Using SenseMaker, participants selected one of three open-ended prompting questions to share an anonymous story about the experiences of Syrian girls in Lebanon: 1.

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Tell a story about a situation that you heard about or experienced that illustrates the best or worse thing about the life of a Syrian girl under the age of 18 in Lebanon, 2. Provide a story that illustrates the biggest difference between life for Syrian girls under the age of 18 living in Lebanon in comparison to life for Syrian girls in Syria, 3.

Suppose a family is coming to Lebanon from Syria, and the family has girls under the age of Tell a story about a Syrian girl in Lebanon that the family can learn from.

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After telling a story, participants interpret their shared narrative by responding to predefined questions on handheld tablets, smartphones or computers. SenseMaker then quantifies each of the responses, providing statistical data backed up by the explanatory narrative [ 44 ].

In total, self-interpreted stories from unique respondents were collected. More detailed information on the survey de and data collection procedure has been ly published [ 45 ]. Two researchers SR, SG independently screened all first person female narratives as well as the systematically selected male narratives to identify main themes and sub around SGBV.

Please see below for the definition of SGBV used for screening and coding purposes. Screening discrepancies between researchers were reviewed by a third researcher HB and inclusion of the narrative was decided by consensus agreement between all three researchers.

Thematic analysis was considered appropriate as it allows rich and detailed meaning to be drawn from data through the emergence of patterns [ 4647 ]. Analysis consisted of familiarization with the data Sex from syria three researchers SR, SG, HB through reading all narratives multiple times, followed by independent coding to create the set of initial codes. Initial codes were then grouped into potential themes representative of the data by researchers SR and SG. For the purpose of this study, stories that discussed any form of physical, sexual, psychological or verbal violence perpetrated against women and girls and seen as a direct result of their gender were screened in and later coded as being about SGBV.

Additionally, harassment based on gender, domestic and intimate partner violence of a physical, sexual or emotional nature as well as sexual assault, commercial sex work and exploitation were all included as forms of SGBV. While men and boys are also affected by SGBV, because this study focused on the experiences of Syrian girls, SGBV perpetrated against men and boys was not captured in the current dataset.

While early, forced and child marriage is widely recognized as a form of SGBV, these narratives were only included in the current analysis if they also described one of the above forms of SGBV since a separate analysis of early, forced and child marriage from this data has been ly published [ 38 ].

Demographics of study participants are presented in Table 1.

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Continuum of SGBV risks in the public and private spheres; 2. Gendered differences and perspectives around SGBV. Different threats and experiences of SGBV in both the private and public spheres were evident for Syrian women and girls in a continuum across the adolescent and early adult years. By private sphere, we refer to acts of violence that occur in the home, typically behind closed doors and often perpetrated by either a family member, friend, or someone else known to the woman or girl.

By public sphere, we refer to those acts of SGBV that occur outside the home, in public areas such as schools, streets, shopping areas, parks, etc.


From this chronological perspective, early SGBV risks refer to those primarily affecting unmarried adolescent girls, while later SGBV risks refer to those experienced more so after being married and leaving the family home. As adolescents, girls are perceived to be at high risk of sexual harassment and sexual violence in their communities. In an effort to protect them from these public sphere threats and to protect their honor, some parents choose to marry their daughters earlier than they perhaps would have under different circumstances. Child marriage is itself a form of SGBV but the risks are further compounded by the IPV that many girls experience after they are married.

Several forms of SGBV were reported Sex from syria women and girls as part of their experiences in the public sphere. Harassment was most commonly reported by girls while travelling to and from school as well as in school, creating a sense of unease and fear among some participants.

Abuse 'ignored for years'

Fear of harassment and heightened concerns around safety for girls led some parents to engage in negative coping mechanisms in an attempt to protect them. For instance, an unmarried Syrian girl based in Tripoli age 18—24 reported that she was not allowed to attend school. Moreover, my sister and I are not allowed to stay at home by ourselves because our parents fear that someone might come in and harass us.

Some participants described being bullied and harassed not only by boys, but also by teachers and school officials. An unmarried Syrian girl living in Beirut age 13—17 reported being harassed by her teacher.

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I told him that he has to move me from between the two boys or I would go home, and he would ask me to go home. My daughter and I ignored him completely, so he stopped the car and opened the window, only to find him naked in the car. I was very scared for my daughter. He was a disgusting man and what he did was even more disgusting.

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Women in Syria have been sexually exploited by men delivering aid on behalf of the UN and international charities, the BBC has learned.


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Each day, hundreds of Syrian women straggle into Jordan, Egypt and other neighboring countries in search of security and a better life for themselves and their children.