More than a week has passed since the government issued clarifications on who qualifies for government support. Even though these clarifications violate the Syrian constitution and make clear the Syrian government’s widespread use of economic violence against women i.e. denying women government support, many have been strangely silent on the issue. Why have all groups concerned with women, women’s rights and human rights in Syria not issued a single word or statement on this issue?

The Syrian Commission for Family Affairs apparently does not think that these recent misogynistic decisions will have any effect on the Syrian family. Unfortunately, this is to be expected, since the Commission has been busy bowing down to the patriarchal Syrian government and affirming that is with its family in the Golan until liberation! As for family in Syria or all the families in Syria headed by single mothers (divorced women and widows), the children of these single mother homes and orphaned children, they have not even managed to spark the interest of this newly formed Syrian Commission for Family Affairs.

The General Federation of Syrian Women also hasn’t said anything. Would it be too much of a headache? Clearly, silence is better. Syrian women already “enjoy rights.” Really, there is no reason to join in with us “enemies” in knowing that the Syrian government, in the year 2010, has carried out one of the most discriminatory decisions that practices violence against women, i.e., its explicit confirmation that a woman is nothing more than a man’s belonging. If a woman is “under a man’s protection” she has the honor of being kept warm (because that is the only way she can get government subsidized diesel). And if not, then she bears the consequences!

Syrian political parties on a whole, with the exception of the Syrian Communist Party, Al Nuur, which attacked the decision and condemned it strongly in its newspaper “Al Nuur”, do not think that Syrian women deserve to be warm. Clearly, warmth is a right reserved for men, “the great and historic leaders,” of these political parties. Everyone seems to agree, whether consciously or not, that an issue pertaining to at least 300,000 people is not worthwhile.  

As for groups concerned with human rights, from the National Organization for Human Rights to the Kurdish Organization for Human Rights, they have the same old excuse: They are too busy with messages from the United Nations Secretary General on what is happening in Zimbabwe, Comoros and Haiti to report the clear human rights violations taking place in Syria, which relate to right of everyone (whether man or women) to have warmth (a pretty basic human right). Will no effort be made to issue a statement on this “frivolous” matter?

It’s a travesty that these organizations claim to defend women’s rights – from the Syrian Women’s League to the National Assembly to Develop the Role of Women – and theoretically do everything they can for women’s development, especially since they didn’t even bother to write a few lines, as individual organizations or collectively, condemning this flagrant abuse. Clearly they think it is a cause that is not worth meeting over and not worth issuing a joint statement about. Perhaps infighting over the proper way to cross t’s and dot i’s got in the way. Or, perhaps there just wasn’t time since there are a number of really important conferences and workshops going on these days. Why not just let disadvantaged women wait to become a more interesting issue?

Of course, it’s not even worth mentioning the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. “Social Affairs” simply means more marginalization and impoverishment! There is a direct correlation between the increase in the marginalization and impoverishment of women and children and the Ministry’s seeming pride in its hypocrisy on the issue of women and children. Given its blunt statements that children who are beggars are deviants by nature, it is a lie that the Ministry is working on the “development” of Syrian civil society.

Given this state of affairs, the government is clearly not the only one who bears responsibility for these violations and is not only one who deserves the blame and condemnation. Instead, all these “forces” that, with their silence, are partner to these violations are guilty. There is no use in one activist here or there writing an inflammatory article in the name of a cause. The status of this activist might be preserved, however the status of her “organization” is what is called into question! The same is true of elements that don’t desist from claiming: “We work in our way from within the government.” However, the government does not know or recognize their existence and they have not proven themselves on the ground, out loud and in public, or in any other way.

Bassam AlKadi, 24/2/2010, (Even NGOs Abandon Syrian Women)

Translated by Liz Broadwin

Source (Arabic)..