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10 February 2015

Syria: medica mondiale is working to benefit Syrian women and girls in Turkish refugee camps

The civil war in Syria started in 2011. Far from coming to an end, the situation became even worse as of June 2014 with an offensive by the terrorist militia “Islamic State (IS)”. Current UN estimates suggest some 12.2 million people are displaced in and around Syria. In the midst of this situation of war and crises, hundreds of thousands of women and girls are being raped, sexually enslaved, forced into prostitution, married off, tortured or subjected to other forms of gender-specific violence. The Turkish women’s aid organisation The Association of Legal Aid Against Sexual Violence is providing assistance to women and girls in refugee camps along the Turkish-Syrian border. medica mondiale has been supporting this work since December 2014.

Many Syrian women and girls have experienced severe sexualised violence and are traumatised. Even in the refugee camps, they are not safe from rape, sexual exploitation, increased domestic violence and other forms of sexualised violence. Additionally, the fact is that Syrian society does not treat women and girls who have been raped as victims. Rather, they are seen as the symbol of a “disgrace” which the whole family needs to cleanse itself of. So many women and girls do not speak about their experiences since they are afraid of the consequences – even death – if their story becomes public.

medica mondiale funds legally relevant documentation and access to medical and psychosocial assistance

The staff working for the women’s aid organisation we fund are supporting the women and girls in the camps, especially by providing them access to medical and psychosocial aid. These staff also document cases of sexualised violence so the perpetrators can later be brought to justice and so the public can be made aware of how women and girls are suffering violence every day. The organisation is also providing legal advice – mainly concerning the lack of official refugee status for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Since they do not come from Europe, they have no legal right to accommodation, food, medical care or psychosocial counselling. This means that numerous Syrian women and girls are living without protection, shelter or resources on the streets of the regions of Turkey near its border. Our partner organisations, however, are providing assistance directly and without complicated bureaucratic hurdles.

From short-term financial assistance to long-term involvement for the benefit of women and girls from Syria and Iraq

medica mondiale started supporting the women’s aid organisation The Association of Legal Aid Against Sexual Violence on December 1, 2014. In 2015 we will expand our assistance to include other organisations working to help women and girls from Syria and Iraq. Additionally, in late 2014 we intensified establishing contacts to women’s organisations in the two countries, with the aim of ensuring a stable, long-term improvement in the support on offer for women and girls in the region.