– Syria just opened its first official shelter for battered women and has enacted reforms favorable to women in recent years.
– But safety activists can’t rest as long as authorities tolerate families who consider it honorable to kill their kinswomen.
Oasis, Syria’s first shelter for battered and abused women, opened its door the first week of August.
“The importance of our shelter is that we are the first shelter to be officially authorized,” says Youmn Abou Alhosn, board member of the Association for Women’s Role Development, which supervises both the Oasis shelter and a juvenile detention center it founded earlier. “This allows us to push for more shelters and provides a basis for changing the laws. But our main purpose is to protect. We don’t want to provoke the governmental bodies we are working with or our societies.”
Abou Alhosn says violence against women here is typically treated as a private family matter that goes unrecorded and unprosecuted.
According to a 2005 study prepared by the Syrian Federation of Women, 1 in 4 Syrian women suffered domestic violence at the hands of male relatives. While that’s comparable with levels around the region and the world, the country’s response to the problem has so far been lagging.