Syria has broached a sensitive subject with the release of a report by the General Union of Women (GUW), a government-run organization, which found that nearly one married woman in four had been beaten. According to the New York Times, 1,900 women and men were surveyed, with families divided by sex for the interviews. Reuters reports that, according to the study, brothers, fathers, and husbands account for more than 70 percent of abusers and the most common victims of abuse are married women.
The report, which is the first of its kind, is mean to coincide with a study of Syria by the United National Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), according to the Times. Hana Qaddoura, speaking to the Times for the GUW, stated that “[t]here are some forms of violence against women that our society doesn’t even see as violence.” Shirin Shukri, of the UN office in Amman, Jordan, who worked on the report, noted to the Times that “[t]he issue of violence against women was kept silent here for many years É this is opening up discussion.”
While women make up 12 percent of Syria’s Parliament, tying with Tunisia for the highest percentage in Arab countries, Reuters cites estimates that between 200 and 300 Syrian women are murdered in so-called “honor killings” each year, which accounts for roughly half of all murders in the country. Souad Bukour, a member of Parliament and the president of the GUW, said to Reuters that “[e]ven though a man would go to prison if his female relative reported him for assault, it is very rare in our society É because that would bring shame onto the family.”