Human Rights

Civil Society Group Tackles Harassment In Ein Issa Camp

Syria

The Taa Marbouta organisation has held a number of seminars and workshops in camps around Ein Issa to discuss sexual harassment and gender-based violence in Syria in the hope of improving conditions for women.

The Taa Marbouta organisation has held a series of seminars and workshops in the camp for displaced Syrians in the city of Ein Issa in northern Raqqa Province. Their goal is to combat one of the most frequent and yet least discussed problems that women in the camp and across Syria suffer from: Sexual Harassment.

The events were meant to be held in Ein Issa months ago. However, the Taa Marbouta organisation faced repeated push-back over concerns that this was not a good topic to discuss in public. Only recently was the organisation finally able to hold its events, highlighting how difficult it is to tackle the issue in Syria.

The events took the form of numerous seminars in which women discussed their experiences with sexual harassment. Breaking that taboo alone has been difficult, with many women afraid of speaking out due to societal attitudes surrounding shame and honor. However, once discussions gained momentum, it is evident that nearly every attendee, even elderly women, had some experience to share.

Special attention was paid to those who lived under the rule of ISIS militants and suffered through the group’s organised policy of gendered violence. Even though the group has been defeated militarily and no longer holds any territory in Raqqa, many of the women here can still feel the shadow cast by the group’s terror tactics.

Alongside discussions, Taa Marbouta held workshops in which they taught women how to respond to sexual harassment through role-play. The main lesson here is that many harassers expect no response or resistance from women, allowing them act with impunity. Showing that women are not weak and having such individuals experience the consequences is vital.

The organisers hope that events such as these will not only have an impact in the immediate surroundings of Ein Issa but the whole of Syria.