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Days of Unbreakable Work against Gender-Based Violence


Together, let the days be filled with actions to combat all forms of violence


By Dr. Iyad Nasr 


UNFPA - Syria Representative 



Today, I am addressing the community and the community leaders specifically, and to all stakeholders in Syria as we all share the responsibility to protect women and girls from all forms of violence. To be fathers, husbands, brothers, mothers, wives, and sisters, means that we are all part of a family, connected through a network of relations that is categorized by ethical values which reflect the extent of required respect and affection to guarantee living without suffering and pain caused by each other without any right or benefit. 


I address every one of us, women and men of all ages and backgrounds. I invite policymakers, service providers, community leaders, and family members to stand for the rights of our girls and women unconditionally.


Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including domestic violence, is a recurring and standing problem in every country, including in Syria. One in three women globally experiences GBV in her life. This rate increases during times of crisis, similar to what has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic that we all face today.  Despite the prevention and mitigation measures for COVID-19, we have recorded a notable increase of reported GBV incidents, particularly for domestic violence as women and girls have experienced limited access to reproductive health and GBV prevention and support services. 


I would also like to emphasize the necessity of addressing Cyber Violence against women, which is facilitated through social media platforms. 


This type of violence is an extension of the scope of harm, whether it's sexual assault through technology, sexual assault based on the use of images and forcing women and girls -under threat- to share them, online stalking, or criminal harassment. We must not delay taking action even for a day, as the right to live without violence applies everywhere, including on social media. Virtual reality is becoming real and it should be safe.


I am aware that Syria has made tangible steps to improve the status of women by enacting new legislation, including the Personal Status Law, increasing the minimum marital age, and introducing marriage contracts to protect the rights of women. However, women and girls in Syria remain affected in varying degrees by different types of GBV. Economic hardship and lack of livelihood opportunities contribute to a potential increase in negative coping practices, such as child/early marriage and forced marriage. 


Based on what has been reported to me, it is indicated that GBV in all its forms physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse is gradually transforming to be manifested as a behavior that is totally controlling and limiting women and girls. 


Men, as well as women, need to be role models for boys and girls across Syria to follow. We need to support their growth into men and women who will condemn violence against girls and women and demonstrate zero tolerance with GBV. Only then can we enhance and promote a culture of respect and healthy relationships. 


I am, and from my current position, calling upon all fathers, husbands, brothers and community members to become positive agents of change to start in combating, preventing and ending GBV.  


The campaign of The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (25 November to 10 December), which was implemented by UNFPA and implementing partners, included activities and actions against GBV. Let’s ensure its effect live with us for the entire year where we can bring about a safer home, street, neighborhood, social media platform and workplace.


We are grateful for the support of our partners and donors, who support more than 126 integrated mobile teams and 48 women’s and girl’s safe spaces providing comprehensive GBV prevention and response services. 


I am calling upon you all, as part of the international campaign of The 16 Days of Activism against GBV, to continue acting against GBV all 365 days of the year and, offering support to survivors of violence and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. As women and girls are abused daily, let’s be agents of change in supporting and advocating for women and girls with whom we all share a human bond.